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Apple’s new Watch, Apple Pay and iPhone 6 met with nervous mocking by competitors


Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 04:09 pm PT (07:09 pm ET)

Every new product Apple unveiled last week has ignited vocal, public derision from a series of threatened competitors, including Samsung, luxury watch maker LVMH and PayPal. However, their attempts to direct attention away from Apple may likely backfire, just like earlier attempts to demonize Siri, Maps, iCloud and Touch ID.

PayPal: we will handle Apple Pay, so don’t trust us

Yesterday, online payment firm PayPal published a full page ad clearly implying that Apple Pay might not be secure because photos were stolen from celebrities.

The company’s implied allegation stopped short of actually saying that PayPal believed that Apple’s iCloud service was exploited (because it wasn’t), or that there were any connection between iCloud and Apple Pay (there isn’t).

In fact, Apple doesn’t even actually handle banking transactions in Apple Pay; it is supplying the hardware and software that enable existing banking institutions and credit card processors to upgrade the level of security they provide for their existing credit and debit card customers.

If PayPal actually believed that Apple’s payment system was insecure and put users at risk, it would be hard to understand why PayPal’s subsidiary Braintree (which also owns Venmo) raced to assure its customers the day after Apple Pay was announced, “we are fully capable of processing Apple Pay transactions should you choose to accept Apple Pay in your app. This means that merchants who currently use Braintree for their payment processing can rest assured that Apple Pay will work with Braintree.”

Rather than describing Apple Pay as some insecure mess, Braintree’s Bill Ready explained that Apple’s new system uses ‘well-known’ security practices, explaining, “Apple Pay consists of two key elements: support for merchants and payment processors to process Apple Pay transactions via tokenization, and a consumer wallet experience for native iOS apps.

“First, let’s cover the payment processing. Tokenization is a well-known approach in the payment space where information such as credit card numbers are hidden by tokens that protect sensitive information. We have many years of experience processing such transactions with the wide array of processing partners we support, which includes most of the major platforms Apple suggests.”

He then concluded by staying, “Apple Pay is exciting for mobile commerce. Braintree is here to help you support Apple Pay in addition to the other global payment experiences you need for your business to thrive on iOS, Android, and the web.”

Less than a week later, PayPal attempted to resurrect pre-event fear-mongering orchestrated to cast a shadow over Apple’s cloud services. That caught the attention of
Keith Rabois, a senior investment partner who previously served as a senior executive at PayPal. His initial reaction was to ask if the PayPal ad was the “Dumbest campaign ever?”

He followed up with a series of “quiz” tweets asking, “Which company suffers more account take-overs via phishing and other abuses, Apple or PayPal?” then “Is Apple more capable of destroying PayPal w/ advertising (and $30 b annual profits) or PayPal ads inflict damage on Apple?” then “Does PayPal or Apple still have LIVE webpages coded in 1999 that have not been upgraded security wise?” and “Who has a brand that Americans love and who has a brand Americans dislike?”

“Ironically, the most vulnerable 1999 webpages LIVE at PayPal today relate to password recovery flows,” he added.

Perhaps PayPal just doesn’t know what different parts of its various companies are doing. Last fall, my seldom used eBay account was exploited, resulting in weekly charges of $84.99 hitting my PayPal account three times, each debited from my attached checking account. Resolving the issue between the two companies (both operated by PayPal) was a hassle and dragged on for a week before the unauthorized charges were eventually reversed.

PayPal’s unflattering history in dealing with fraud and in creating frustrating problems of its own for its users was extensive enough for The Verge to turn into an article. Although the author continued to malign Apple over iCloud without offering any supporting evidence, he also cited repeated events where PayPal had actually shut down users’ accounts in error or failed to address serious security issues identified by researchers.

Samsung: we mock the company we slavishly copy

PayPal’s advertising tactic drew more than a few comparisons to Samsung, which has been publishing ads attacking Apple and its users for years, even as it has slavishly copied every facet of the iPhone, iPad and iOS.

This year, Samsung released a new batch of ads, including one that claimed the “leads-by-following” company’s Galaxy Note product is “more innovative” because it does stylus handwritten recognition like Apple’s Newton Message Pad from 1994, and “more fun” because it can run an Android port of a DJ app that originated on iOS.

The ad targets Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus as being late to the phablet party that Samsung launched in 2011. The spot, along with others similarly mocking Apple, is voiced by Neal Brennan, a standup comic and co-creator of “The Chapelle Show” (for which he was nominated for three Emmys).

Samsung has no problem paying entertainers and athletes money to stand next to their products, but that doesn’t mean they actually use Samsung’s stuff. LA Weekly wrote earlier this year that Brennan is “constantly creating and updating numerous sketch/sitcom/stand-up idea lists on his iPhone,” and that “Brennan and Dave Chappelle text and FaceTime” between their performances together.

FaceTime doesn’t work on the Galaxy Note, so even if Samsung gave Brennan its his free phones and tablets, he’d still need to use his actual iPhone. In fact, when Brennan was featured in a series of photographs of notable comics by photographer Luke Fontana, he happened to be captured holding his iPhone (the only comic in the series holding any piece of technology).

Samsung seems to have a really hard time finding notable people to pay to use its products who actually use its products, even after it pays them (as it did with Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars, as well as athletes David Beckham, Franz Beckenbauer and David Ferrer).

In August, Samsung had Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine help launch its Milk Music service, where he suggested having an “iPhone burning.” Yet last week Levine tweeted that his friends from “The Voice” would be on… “the Ellen Show” from … his iPhone, just prior to performing at the iTunes Festival.

LVMH mocks Apple Watch, then says we “must not copy it,” “cannot afford to just follow”

At the other end of the spectrum, Jean-Claude Biver, the head of LVMH’s TAG Heuer luxury watch brand, immediately complained to the Telegraph UK that Apple Watch “has no sex appeal. It’s too feminine and looks too much like the smartwatches already on the market.”

Days later, he told Swiss paper NZZ am Sonntag that “we want to launch a smartwatch at TAG Heuer, but it must not copy the Apple Watch,” adding simply, “We cannot afford to just follow in somebody else’s footsteps.”

While Biver couldn’t quite align a coherent statement of whether he thought Apple Watch was a terrible design or, alternatively, challenging to copy in way that didn’t give the appearance of being like Samsung, other luxury watch talking heads insisted that Apple’s watch was “too masculine,” rather than being “too feminine” or alternatively having “no sex appeal” at all.

While Apple didn’t attach any gender roles to either the sizes or models of the Apple Watch it showed off last week, it did commission a series of photographs that depict it begin worn by both men and women, none of whom appear to be lacking sufficient appeal or fearful of the sexuality emanating from their watch.

This all happened before

Competitors’ fears being expressed through nervous laughter directed at Apple are nothing new. The company has had every one of its blockbuster new product categories scoffed at by the companies who were about to be run over by them, including Microsoft, Blackberry, Palm and Nokia scoffing at the iPhone.

After Apple released Siri, Andy Rubin, the head of Android development at Google, insisted that he didn’t “believe that your phone should be an assistant” like Siri, while Microsoft’s Andy Lees of WP7 was quick to say he didn’t think the new service was “super useful,” indicating his company would avoid having its users speak commands to their phones in public. Both companies subsequently turned around and copied Siri.

Microsoft, last to the voice assistant party, is now scoffing at Apple’s Siri again. Ironically, nobody is actually using Windows Phone, not even the voice actress Microsoft hired to speak its Siri-impersonating voice. Just like Samsung’s celebrities, Jen Taylor uses an iPhone, too.

When Apple showed off its own Maps, Google helped orchestrate a campaign of doubt and ridicule, even allowing its Motorola subsidiary to fake an address for a mocking online ad campaign. Within the first year, Google lost a huge number of Maps users, with data from app analytics firm comScore indicating that Google retained less than a third of the iOS Maps audience it once dominated exclusively.

iCloud has similarly been scoffed at by rival cloud services, but Apple now has extremely high adoption with its iOS and Mac users after building far more useful and innovative services into iCloud than third party services can in many cases even offer (including Safari bookmarks and Reading List sync; Find My Phone and new Continuity features in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite).

Last year, critics immediately jumped on Touch ID, claiming that it could be easily bypassed by a team of experts equipped with high resolution scans of a user’s fingerprints. Henry Blodget of Business Insider notoriously called Touch ID “an irrelevant gimmick” before it shipped.

However, that scoffing didn’t stop users from seeing immediate convenience in the feature once it became available. This summer, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook stated that 83 percent of iPhone 5s users were now actually setting up Touch ID passcodes and securing their phones (an improvement over the fewer than half that were doing so prior to Touch ID).

As a result, law enforcement reported a significant reduction in device thefts they attributed to iOS 7′s passcode-activated Activation Lock.

Lawmakers in Minnesota and California were so impressed with the results that they passed laws forcing Google, Samsung, Motorola, Blackberry, Microsoft and Nokia to copy Apple’s lead in securing users’ phones or face the loss of significant markets.

Perhaps Apple is having the last laugh.

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Full Tim Cook interview with Charlie Rose available to stream online


Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 05:16 pm PT (08:16 pm ET)

After the second segment of a two-part Charlie Rose interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook aired on Monday, full versions of both are now available for streaming online.

The two-part broadcast, filmed last week after Apple’s iPhone 6 lineup reveal, is now up on the official Charlie Rose website, as well as the PBS host’s Hulu channel. Both segments are free to stream.

Over the course of nearly two hours, Cook discusses new products like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s business model as compared to competitors like Google and workplace diversity, among many other topics.

In the first session, posted last Friday, Cook reveals that Apple is working on products that “haven’t been rumored about yet” and fields questions regarding the large-screened iPhone 6 lineup. The Apple chief says a larger iPhone could have been made years ago, but the company wanted to make a “better phone in every single way.”

Cook reiterates his company’s interest in television, saying he would like to see some changes in regard to user experience, changes that foreshadow an Apple TV refresh expected in the coming months. Also mentioned during the first segment was company cofounder Steve Jobs and Apple’s recent $3 billion acquisition of Beats.

The final part of Cook’s interview covers consumer privacy as it applies to Apple’s business model. The CEO is quoted as saying, “Our business is not based on having information about you. You’re not our product.”

Diversity in the workplace is also discussed. Cook says, “That everyone deserves a basic level of human rights, regardless of their color, regardless of their religion, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their gender. That everyone deserves respect. And, you know, I’ll fight for it until my toes point out.”

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Review roundup: Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8


Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 06:27 pm PT (09:27 pm ET)

As expected, reviews for Apple’s new iPhone lineup hit the Web on Tuesday, with most assessments being largely positive on hardware — especially the 6 Plus’ battery life— but giving the nod to iOS 8 for keeping the handsets ahead of the competition.


Walt Mossberg, who handled the iPhone 6 review for Re/code, called the handset “the best smartphone on the market, when you combine its hardware, all-new operating system, and the Apple ecosystem whose doors it opens.” Despite calling the 4.7-inch screen a “catch-up feature,” Mossberg said Apple did a good job in keeping color accuracy on track, unlike competing models from Samsung.

Interestingly, Mossberg found the iPhone 6 battery to last some 14 or 15 hours before needing a recharge, substantially better than the previous generation iPhone 5s, which usually gets eight to ten hours per charge. At the end of testing, Mossberg dropped the unit on its face, cracking the screen. He suggests a case.

Reviewer Lauren Goode took on the iPhone 6 Plus phablet for the publication, saying that while she does not prefer larger handsets, the 5.5-inch version is tempting. During testing, Goode found the battery lasted well over one day with screen brightness set to 50 percent, no mean feat for such a large and thin device.

David Pogue

At his new post at Yahoo, Pogue calls the new iPhones beautiful, pointing out the new curved edges and slimmed down chassis. The main theme of his video review is “big,” and he pulls out a variety of novelty size props to help cement the idea that the new iPhones are, indeed, larger than before. Pogue offers little in the way of new insight into Apple’s handsets, but does a good job in demoing the units for the camera.


One of the more comprehensive reviews comes from Engadget, which scored both models highly, but gave the edge to the iPhone 6 due to cumbersome handling with the 6 Plus. Some interesting highlights include a side-by-side look at the devices’ displays, which the publication found slightly different, but not enough to warrant a higher recommendation.

Further, benchmarks from the new A8 chip reveal only minor boosts in performance from the iPhone 5s’ A7 SoC, with the iPhone 6 Plus version coming in ahead of the pack. Again, the uptick in speed may not be worth the price of upgrading for some. Also included are image galleries comparing the iPhone 6′s digital image stabilization with the optical image stabilization of the 6 Plus.


Darrell Etherington also points out great battery life with the iPhone 6 Plus, saying it easily outperformed the iPhone 6 by at least a full day’s use. For Etherington, the 6 Plus was oddly comfortable despite being extra large, but in the end the 4.7-inch version gets the nod for overall portability with high-end features.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop

Dalrymple said he likes the new iPhone 6 form factor and new Retina HD displays, which to his eye appear more vivid and bright than current iPhone models. The larger size is obviously most apparent with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, but Apple’s implementation of Reachability and other UI tweaks keep the phablet manageable.

The New York Times

Molly Wood of The Times also made note of how large the iPhone 6 Plus is in the hand, saying the thin and sleek design will likely cause a number of users to drop the device when reaching for a far away icon. The review compares Apple’s latest iPhones with competing large-screened smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and the LG G3, noting those models have special UI functions that help users deal with the expansive screen area.

“As for the features that people love about their iPhones, they only get better,” Wood writes. “The iPhone 6 cameras, for example, are outstanding.”

Other notable reviews:

Nilay Patel and David Pierce for The Verge
Scott Stein for CNET: Solid hardware is larger but easy to handle.
Ed Baig for USA Today
Joshua Topolsky for Bloomberg
Stuart Miles for Pocket-lint
Geoffrey Fowler for The Wall Street Journal
Charles Arthur for The Guardian

Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus go on sale this Friday at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores.

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Apple to introduce app-specific passwords for iCloud-connected titles


Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 07:20 pm PT (10:20 pm ET)

Come October, Apple’s iCloud will have yet another layer of protection, as the company is scheduled to implement app-specific passwords for third-party programs tying in to the cloud service.

According to a Support Document posted to Apple’s website on Tuesday, the new security feature will be employed to all third-party apps connecting with iCloud even if that program does not support two-step verification. In conjunction with new two-factor authentication protocols activated on on Tuesday, Apple is showing serious advances in cloud security.

If you use iCloud with any third party apps, such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, or BusyCal, you can generate app-specific passwords that allow you to sign in securely, even if the app you’re using doesn’t support two-step verification. Using an app-specific password also ensures that your primary Apple ID password isn’t collected or stored by any third party apps you might use.

When the system goes live, iCloud users can generate new passwords by visiting the My Apple ID home page, then create a new code from the Password and Security settings pane. The system is limited to 25 active passwords, though users have the ability to manage which apps get priority through the same setup process.

Apple’s app-specific password program is akin to others already in place, including a long-standing system from Google. The method is safer than entering in a global password for connecting to services like email and social networks as the code can easily be revoked if a device is stolen of lost, thus protecting the underlying iCloud account. Additionally, many apps don’t support two-step authentication and issuing an app-specific code is one way of getting around the problem.

The iCloud security feature will roll out on Oct. 1, on which day third-party apps connecting with the service will be required to sign in using a specific assigned password.

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Despite record output, Foxconn unable to keep up with massive iPhone 6 demand


Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 03:27 am PT (06:27 am ET)

As preorders for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus continue to pour in to the Online Apple Store, partner manufacturer Foxconn is reportedly having trouble keeping up with incredibly high demand despite reaching record output levels.

According to sources familiar with the supplier’s operations, Foxconn has 100 dedicated assembly lines in Zhengzhou working around the clock in an attempt to meet preorders and launch day allotments for Apple’s iPhone 6 handsets, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“We have been churning out 140,000 iPhone 6 Plus and 400,000 iPhone 6 every day, the highest daily output ever, but the volume is still not enough to meet the preorders,” the unnamed source said. “For iPhone 6 Plus, we are still ramping up the production line. Another reason for the limited supply is the shortage of 5.5-inch displays.”

One insider said 5.5-inch display yields are somewhere between 50 to 60 percent, meaning nearly half of all produced panels are scrapped as they do not meet Apple’s strict standards. Retina HD displays bound for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 are faring better with an output rate of about 85 percent.

Sources said Foxconn is responsible for manufacturing all iPhone 6 Plus models, as well as a “majority” of iPhone 6 versions. The report contrasts rumors from August that claimed Pegatron had won 50 percent of iPhone 6 orders, which at the time was said to be some 50 million units.

Reports from as late as July claimed Apple’s larger 5.5-inch iPhone would not be ready in time to launch with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, though Apple has put those rumors to bed and will debut both smartphones this Friday. Supplies for the “phablet” device appear to be constrained, however, as the larger phone was first to see delivery dates slip when preorders went live last Friday.

The stage is set for a record-breaking launch this week, as Apple on Monday announced combined iPhone 6 and 6 Plus preorders exceeded four million units within their first 24 hours of availability.

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Appellate court rejects $368 million VirnetX patent victory over Apple


Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 10:43 am PT (01:43 pm ET)

Patent holding company VirnetX’s infamous $368 million win over Apple — which most notably resulted in changes to FaceTime that riled consumers — has been thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit after review.

The appellate court held that the initial trial was “tainted” after incorrect instructions were given to the jury and expert testimony that should have been barred was instead allowed, according to the Wall Street Journal. The case will now be kicked back to a trial court.

VirnetX won the award in late 2012, securing a verdict that said FaceTime had infringed upon U.S. Patent No. 8,05,181 for a “Method for Establishing Secure Communication Link Between Computers of Virtual Private Network.” VirnetX had earlier asserted the patent against MIcrosoft, winning some $200 million in that case.

Following the verdict, Apple redesigned FaceTime’s virtual private network functionality. The change cost Apple on multiple fronts, leading to over half a million customer complaints and costing the company an additional $2.4 million per month.

That was not enough for VirnetX, however, as the company swiftly filed another suit alleging continued infringement. They updated it in January of this year to add the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPod Touch with Retina display, and latest Mac notebooks and desktops.

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