Apple lands exclusive digital access to enhanced Harry Potter series on iBooks

Oct 08, 2015 - 12:06 PM - by sparkyscott21

Enhanced editions of all seven books in the blockbuster "Harry Potter" series, featuring the original text with interactive animations and elaborate artwork, are now available exclusively on the iBooks Store, Apple announced on Thursday.

J.K. Rowling's iconic series also comes to life in unique, new ways with annotations written by the author herself. The enhanced iBooks editions also include exclusive custom covers for each title, and typography including the custom Harry Potter typefaces, as well as new section headers and drop caps

Previously, digital versions of the Potter series were only available through the Pottermore shop. All seven titles are available here:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

"I'm thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way," said J.K. Rowling.

The Harry Potter Enhanced Editions are available today in English for $9.99 each in 32 countries. Preorders are available for French, German and Spanish editions, set to launch Nov. 9 in 18 more countries.

"Harry Potter fans are going to love how their favorite stories come to life," Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said. "J.K. Rowling's legendary series is perfect for enjoying on your iPad or iPhone and we're thrilled to offer them exclusively on the iBooks Store."

Apple's iBooks platform is available on both iOS and Mac. The iBooks Store is in 52 countries, offering titles across dozens of categories, including history books, biographies, picture books, and children's books.


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European court rules Apple and other tech companies are violating privacy

Oct 07, 2015 - 11:45 AM - by sparkyscott21
The European Court of Justice just handed down a disruptive ruling.

In a landmark decision Tuesday, the European Court of Justice ruled that European Union regulators can override the Safe Harbor agreement, a 15-year-old accord that has – until now – allowed Apple, Google, Facebook, and about 4,500 other U.S. companies to transfer data from European users to the U.S.

The court believes that the current agreement violates European citizens’ right to privacy by exposing their private data to the U.S. government through the American companies’ cooperation with U.S. intelligence agencies.

The big companies who rely on this agreement, like Apple, will most likely rush to try and appeal the ruling, or at least quickly come to another agreement that will allow them to do business in Europe, which of course includes personal data from users.

Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation believes this ruling will cause a huge disruption to the companies currently operating under the Safe Harbor agreement.

“Aside from taking an ax to the undersea fiber-optic cables connecting Europe to the United States, it is hard to imagine a more disruptive action to trans-Atlantic digital commerce,” Castro said in a statement.

U.S. tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google (which makes 90 percent of its revenue from advertising) face a loss of that very same revenue if the court’s decision stands unchanged.

It’s a fact of modern life that after Edward Snowden exposed U.S. surveillance on internet and phone communications in 2013 most of the rest of the world is concerned that their own private data will be targeted by U.S. spymasters if technology continues to flow through the U.S.

The answer is to come up with a better agreement than the one hammered out in 2000.

The court’s decision won’t shut down data transfers overnight, but does give regulators in the EU the ability to investigate and shut them down if they feel like there are not enough protections in place.


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Apple dodges $59.2 billion tax bill by holding cash overseas

Oct 06, 2015 - 1:39 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple is holding more cash overseas than any other corporation in the U.S. and it’s paying off big time by helping the company avoid an estimated $59.2 billion tax bill.

Of course, Apple’s not alone in holding massive amounts of cash overseas. A new study released today found that the 500 largest companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in profits offshore to dodge paying U.S. taxes. Collectively, the companies would owe an estimated $620 billion if they repatriated the funds.

Apple currently holds $181.1 billion offshore in three overseas tax havens. The study says the iPhone maker would owe an estimated $59.2 billion.

Other companies holding massive amounts of cash offshore include Microsoft with $108.3 billion in five tax haven subsidiaries. General Electric has $119 billion in 18 tax havens, while drug company Pfizer has $74 billion in 151 subsidiaries.

Instead of bringing the cash back to the US and paying taxes, Apple has repeatedly decided to borrow money to pay for things like its stock buyback program. Tim Cook has publicly commented on the high US tax rate saying it’s not a viable option for businesses, and that the US needs to restructure its corporate tax code.


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Apple's angled camera concept could enable virtual keyboard docks

Oct 06, 2015 - 12:51 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for a new type of camera that could capture images at indirect angles – a concept that the company says could be used to enable projected, virtual keyboards on any flat surface.

In the newly awarded invention, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple states that electronic devices often have front and rear cameras, but that these cameras are normally fixed in a direction perpendicular to the surface they're embedded in. This makes them impractical for recording some subjects.

The iPhone maker's proposed solution, a patent entitled "Camera Accessory for Angled Camera Viewing," would use a system of reflectors to bounce light into the camera lens, and might attach via methods like magnets, clamps, a suction cup, or even removable adhesive. Apple also suggests the possibility of using rotational mechanisms or fiber bundles in the accessory's construction.

Apple further offers the possibility of using a stand. Significantly, a featured diagram depicts an iPad-sized device sitting in a dock that can image both a person's face and their hands, the latter for detecting input from a person's fingers, for instance when typing on a projected virtual keyboard.

Apple originally applied for the patent in September of 2012. It is credited to a single inventor, Nicholas G.L. Merz, and is officially identified as U.S. Patent No. 9,154,677.

The invention isn't the only interest Apple has shown in virtual keyboard and input methods. AppleInsider also detailed another patent earlier this year that would use a 3D camera system to allow users to type in the air, without the need for a surface to place their fingertips.

Apple's interest in virtual input methods led the company to acquire Israeli 3D sensor firm PrimeSense in 2013. Though PrimeSense technology has yet to appear in any Apple products in obvious ways, the company's creations are perhaps most famous for powering the first-generation Kinect sensor for Microsoft's Xbox 360.


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Apple’s newly acquired company to transform Siri into HAL9000

Oct 05, 2015 - 11:48 AM - by sparkyscott21

In iOS 9, Apple made Siri even smarter by giving its voice-based virtual assistant additional powers to aid iPhone and iPad owners. But Apple isn’t stopping there, as the company apparently plans to improve the quality of Siri in future updates, both when it comes to understanding human speech and predicting the user’s needs.

Late last week, The Financial Times reported that Apple purchased a U.K.-based startup called VocalIQ that makes artificial intelligence software for processing natural language.

It’s not known how much Apple paid for the VocalIQ, and the iPhone maker gave the Times the same familiar statement it offers every time it buys other companies. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the company said about the purchase.

VocalIQ technology will likely be used to improve Siri’s ability to understand human speech. The startup also has technology that would let apps learn more about the user, the kind of technology that would make Siri an even better Google Now and Cortana rival.

While it’ll be a while before Siri can actually develop HAL9000-like powers, the virtual assistant is widely deployed in Apple’s ecosystem. Siri is currently available on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, and it’s likely it’ll be incorporated in future Apple products, including a future Apple car.


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No iPhone is safe: Newly found malware can harm any iOS device

Oct 05, 2015 - 11:44 AM - by sparkyscott21

Gone are the days when iOS malware reports were a rare thing. Following a wave of malware attacks on the iPhone and iPad — including a massive App Store hack and an Apple ID theft operation — a new security report reveals there’s dangerous malware in the wild that can harm any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch regardless of whether they’re jailbroken or not.

Called YiSpecter, the malware app was discovered by security company Palo Alto Networks, the same entity that first detailed the XcodeGhost hack.

YiSpecter can infiltrate any iOS device via a variety of means, posing as a genuine Apple-signed app once installed. Once on your iOS device, the app can then make itself invisible to the user by disguising itself as an actual iOS app, or hiding itself from the home screen — which means the user has no means of deleting it.

“On infected iOS devices, YiSpecter can download, install and launch arbitrary iOS apps, replace existing apps with those it downloads, hijack other apps’ execution to display advertisements, change Safari’s default search engine, bookmarks and opened pages, and upload device information to the C2 [command and control] server,” the researchers revealed.

Even if manually deleted, the malware will automatically re-appear.

There are many ways of installing YiSpecter on the phone, including hijacking traffic from nationwide ISPs, a worm on Windows, offline app installations, and community promotions. The app takes advantage of Apple’s enterprise certificates that are used to sign four app components to fool the operating system into believing it’s a genuine app.

Palo Alto Networks has devised a way of removing the malware app and additional apps that it may have installed, but you might require third-party programs that give you access to the phone’s file system — check it out below:

In iOS, go to Settings -> General -> Profiles to remove all unknown or untrusted profiles;
If there’s any installed apps named “情涩播放器”, “快播私密版” or “快播0”, delete them;
Use any third-party iOS management tool (e.g., iFunBox, though note that Apple’s iTunes doesn’t work in this step) on Windows or Mac OS X, to connect with your iPhone or iPad;
In the management tool, check all installed iOS apps; if there are some apps have names like Phone, Weather, Game Center, Passbook, Notes, or Cydia, delete them. (Note that this step won’t affect original system apps but just delete faked malware.)


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