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Google adding fingerprint support to ‘Android M’


The next version of Google’s Android mobile operating system will reportedly bring system-wide support for fingerprint authentication, paving the way for more Android devices to adopt Touch ID-style biometrics.

Motorola planned a fingerprint sensor for the dimple that houses the Motorola logo on the back of the Nexus 6.

Google’s fingerprint solution will allow users to both unlock their phone and replace passwords in supported applications, according to BuzzFeed News. Support could be announced as early as next week, when Google convenes its annual developers conference, though there is still no confirmation that “Android M” will be on the docket.

Android OEMs that already offer fingerprint sensors in their devices — such as Samsung and China’s Huawei — have been forced to roll their own biometric authentication systems. Adding it to the Android core would ease the burden on smaller manufacturers, and could also help to drive adoption by allowing developers to quickly integrate with fingerprint sensors.

On iOS, developers quickly added Touch ID as an authentication option after Apple opened the system up to third parties. Some in the iOS development community have observed that apps which feature Touch ID support sell better than comparable offerings without it, suggesting that consumers have warmed to the functionality.

Earlier this year, former Motorola chief Dennis Woodside revealed that Google’s Nexus 6 was originally designed with fingerprint authentication in mind, but the feature was scrapped after Apple bought sensor supplier AuthenTec.

“The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition, and Apple bought the best supplier,” Woodside said, referring to a dimple on the handset’s rear that now contains the Motorola logo. “So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren’t there yet.”

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Apple’s iPhone 5c helps man survive shotgun blast to the chest


A 25-year-old British man who was shot in the chest with a shotgun during a confrontation outside of his home survived the event, thanks in part to his green iPhone 5c, which absorbed much of the impact.

The victim was seriously injured by the blast, but was able to return home to call emergency services thanks to the iPhone, according to ITV News. The man’s attacker was subsequently found guilty of attempted murder.

“[The attacker's] actions that night were extreme and shocking – the victim went outside to speak to the group about the fact they had turned off the water supply resulting in the defendant shooting him with a powerful weapon,” Cheshire Police Detective Inspector Gary McIntyre said in a statement.

“Fortunately, the victim’s mobile phone took the brunt of the shot and, as a result of this, he survived. This is remarkable – had that phone not been in his pocket at that time he would undoubtedly have died.”

An image of the phone shows its polycarbonate shell severely deformed but ultimately un-punctured.

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Early Apple Watch Edition orders begin shipping with custom delivery times


The first Apple Watch Edition orders should arrive as soon as Saturday, although unlike most Watch models, buyers are being given the option of when they’ll have their device delivered, a report noted on Friday.

Throughout the week Edition buyers have started receiving shipping notifications and credit card charges, MacRumors said. Emails sent to the customers ask them to pick a specific delivery time, as long as it fits within courier hours — for instance excluding major holidays.

The extra attention is due to the cost of the Edition, which uses 18-karat solid gold in its chassis, controls, and some band components. Even the least expensive Edition models are priced at $10,000, and costs can soar as high as $17,000 despite the Edition’s functions being no different than those of a $349 Sport.

Many other Watch orders have been shipping since April 24, but until now the earliest preorders of the Edition have still been waiting for delivery. The delay is again presumably because of the use of gold, which requires different manufacturing processes than aluminum or steel, including hand polishing.

The special treatment of Edition customers extends to other areas. Edition try-on appointments are typically longer and segregated from the rest of an Apple Store, and each Edition comes with a unique box that doubles as a charging dock.

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Apple attends ‘spy summit’ to discuss data privacy, mass surveillance issues


Apple was on the list of attendees at a secretive three-day conference last week, where heads of intelligence agencies from around the world met with private sector tech companies, security experts and journalists to discuss the ramifications of data privacy on state protection.

According to The Intercept, which obtained a copy of the event program, the summit was chaired by former British MI6 Sir John Scarlett as part of an ongoing series of conferences put on by the Ditchley Foundation. Said to discuss “complex issues of international concern,” these highly confidential meetings are held at the foundation’s mansion in Oxfordshire.

The guest list reads like a who’s who of current and former high ranking government surveillance officials from the CIA, British signal intelligence group GCHQ, German intelligence service and many other agencies from the U.S., Australia, Canada and the EU. Apple’s director of global privacy Jane Horvath and security and privacy manager Erik Neuenschwander represented the company’s interests, while executives from Google and Vodafone were also in attendance.

Also present was current GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan, who recently condemned U.S. tech companies like Apple and Google as “command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals.” Hannigan’s stance mirrors that of his counterparts in the U.S. intelligence community who argue that access to public data is vital to national security.

Data privacy has been a hot button topic since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information regarding secret government surveillance programs that collect data on a massive scale. In question are collection techniques that ingest data wholesale, with everything from phone calls to social network posts scrutinized without the user’s knowledge or proof of wrongdoing.

Law enforcement agencies argue that a certain level of access to private data is needed to adequately conduct criminal investigations. Specifically, justice officials sometimes request personal data logs from telephone companies, cloud service providers like Apple and other entities in a lawful procedure allowed through court-ordered warrants.

Amid the Snowden leaks, technology companies began to provide consumers with communications products that boasted advanced encryption features. Apple was one of the first big tech firms to offer consumers high-security encryption in iOS 8, claiming at the time that its system was so secure that user data would be inaccessible even with the appropriate documentation.

While Apple’s efforts are not designed to expressly thwart government sanctioned snooping, CEO Tim Cook has been an outspoken advocate of consumer data privacy with a hardline stance against data sharing.

“None of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information,” Cook said during an interview in February. “This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn’t give it up. We shouldn’t give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.”

Law enforcement agencies, however, find Apple’s technology, as well as similar efforts from Google, counterproductive and even detrimental to time critical criminal investigations. In the U.S., some officials are pushing policy to institute mandated software backdoors for crime fighting purposes, but private companies that have an interest in keeping buyers happy are showing resistance. Most recently, Apple and other tech companies signed a letter asking President Barack Obama to disregard such measures, arguing that strong encryption is necessary to secure the “modern information economy.”

The issue, then, becomes one of striking a balance between public privacy and lawful data access, a problem supposedly addressed during last week’s summit. The Intercept notes the Ditchley conference is evidence that government and private companies are showing an increased willingness to discuss the matter, at least behind closed doors.

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New book says BlackBerry ignored iPhone threat because it misunderstood market


An excerpt from an upcoming book on the rise and collapse of Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry suggests that while the company — then known as RIM — had some appreciation for 2007′s first-generation iPhone, it did not see the device as a threat given RIM’s core customers.

Headquarters of RIM, now BlackBerry, in Waterloo, Ontario. | Source: The Globe and Mail

“If the iPhone gained traction, RIM’s senior executives believed, it would be with consumers who cared more about YouTube and other Internet escapes than efficiency and security,” reads one portion of an excerpt from Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff’s Losing the Signal, as published by the Wall Street Journal. The company believed that its central business customers cared more about security and efficient communication — for instance through the signature BlackBerry physical keyboard — than having the full internet in their pocket.

At the time, most phones had extremely limited Web and video functions and clumsy button-based browsers. The iPhone was the first smartphone with a Web browser comparable to the desktop, as well as an all-touchscreen interface. Apple moreover negotiated with ATT to allow unlimited data, something unheard of when most data plans were still measured in megabytes.

RIM executives allegedly did not fully understand the iPhone or why people were buying it, another argument being the device’s poor battery life. Once the company did react it partnered with Verizon on the touch-based BlackBerry Storm, but the former pushed RIM into shipping the product quickly, resulting in a botched phone that many people returned despite initially strong sales.

The Storm was a watershed moment, not only hurting RIM financially but wrecking public opinion and its partnership with Verizon. The company then had no idea of which path it needed to take. “We’re grappling with who we are because we can’t be who we used to be anymore, which sucked…It’s not clear what the hell to do,” said one of the company’s former CEOs, Jim Balsille.

Losing the Signal is available for $20.81 from Amazon and is due to ship on May 26.

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AppleInsider podcast discusses new Macs, Apple Watch update & Wall Street analysts


This week’s all-new AppleInsider podcast features Neil Hughes and Shane Cole as we discuss the latest iMac, MacBook Pro, and Apple Watch news. Also, Neil has a word to say on Wall Street analysts.

AppleInsider staff members Neil Hughes, Shane Cole, and Victor Marks discuss the top stories:

  • New MacBook Pro and iMac released
  • Apple acquires Coherent Navigation, a precision GPS company
  • Apple Watch roundup: Watch OS update, Continuity, sales predictions, and the Mophie Dock
  • Carl Icahn, Gene Munster, and the Apple television rumors that wouldn’t die
  • Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs movie
  • The show is available in iTunes and your favorite podcast apps by searching for “AppleInsider”. Click here to listen, subscribe, and don’t forget to rate our show.

    You can also listen to it embedded via SoundCloud below

    Show note links:

    Follow our hosts on Twitter: @thisisneil and @vmarks

    We’d appreciate your feedback and comments, as well as any questions that we can answer on future episodes. Send your responses to the AppleInsider podcast at and follow or tweet at us @appleinsider.

    Finally, anyone interested in sponsoring the show can reach out to us at

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