President Barack Obama on Wednesday said the Secret Service does not allow him to use Apple's iPhone for security reasons, explaining why the leader of the free world still carries around a BlackBerry from 2007.
The president's documented fondness of BlackBerry devices may be overdone, as he admitted to a group of White House visitors that the Canadian smartphone is the only device certified to be used in his post, reports AFP via Security Week.
"I'm not allowed for security reasons to have an iPhone," Obama said to at an event promoting his health care initiative. He added that his daughters, Sasha and Malia, are iPhone users who spend a lot of their time using their devices.
Before he assumed office in 2009, Obama was regarded as the most tech-savvy president in history. A large part of that description came from his adoption of mobile tech like the BlackBerry, which he fought to keep against the wishes of the Secret Service.
As highlighted in a Washington Post report from September, presidents quickly fall behind the times when it comes to the cutting-edge. With computer technology moving at a steady yet rapid pace, proven government security measures cannot be installed fast enough to allow for the same flexibility afforded the everyday consumer.
BlackBerry is known to have solid security and was the go-to device for the U.S. government before the rise of the iPhone, but with the proliferation of Apple's handset and those running Google's Android operating system, things have changed. Earlier this year, Apple's last-generation iOS 6 operating system was granted FIPS [Federal Information Processing Standard] 140-2 level 1 validation, allowing certain government agencies to adopt specialized devices running the software.
The low-level cryptographic certification gives Apple a foot in the door for government contracts, like Department of Defense employees, but still limits iPhone and iPad use to security clearance levels well below those assigned to the president.
While it is unlikely that President Obama will be able to use an iPhone during his remaining tenure, he has been seen carrying and using other Apple devices, including a third-generation iPad and a 15-inch MacBook Pro.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application detailing a full-function "smart dock" that continually listens for cues to activate and communicate with the voice recognition functions of docked devices, like the iPhone and iPad.
Apple's "Smart dock for activating a voice recognition mode of a portable electronic device" filing clearly describes an iOS device accessory unlike anything the company has manufactured. Like third-party peripherals, Apple's proposed dock can include a speaker, microphone and built-in screen, but goes further by allowing access to the Siri virtual assistant.
Currently, Apple's only docking solutions for both the iPhone and iPad are limited to charging and line-out audio. In contrast, the proposed dock would have a screen, tactile controls or a touch panel with which a user can interface. Other embodiments include a scroll wheel, buttons and other manual controls.
Instead of carrying Siri onboard, the dock would be mostly headless until an iPhone or iPad was operatively coupled to the unit. Basic functionality like a clock and radio are provided, but voice recognition and heavy processing are accomplished by the iOS device.
Basically, the dock listens for a specific prompt, recognizes an activation request by the user, relays commands to the docked iPhone and executes any operations returned by the device. Examples could be playing a song or facilitating communication between the user and Siri.
In operation, a user would perform an initial setup that would include assigning an audio prompt, such as a spoken word or hand clap, that will be used to activate the unit and its services. For example, a user may want to set the prompt as a finger snap. When in listening mode, if the dock "hears" a finger snap, it will activate the iPhone's voice recognition feature.
By setting listening thresholds, the dock can selectively filter out ambient noise while still allowing a user to operate their device remotely using only audio cues. Since the system relies primarily on audio input, an effective limiter must be implemented to ignore responses by Siri. In these scenarios, the dock would deactivate listening mode during voice recognition operations.
Internal components include a wireless communications module for accessing off-site databases and Internet assets like webpages or cloud storage. If, for example, a user wanted to change their schedule for the day, they could initiate Siri via the always-listening dock and modify a calendar stored in iCloud.
In addition to the built-in hardware, the dock can also be fitted with add-ons like a removable hard drive, environmental sensors, a GPS module and more. Some embodiments allow for the dock and iOS device to be paired but uncoupled, meaning the dock... [Read More]
iTunes users across the country are reporting an issue Apple ID being unable to log them into iTunes to make purchases or access previous purchased. A wave of Apple customers have taken to the online support forums over the past 12 hours to complain about a that is preventing users from being able to log in to iTunes.
When trying to sign in to the iTunes Stores the bug pitches back an error that reads “FATAL::Unable to process your request. Please try again.” Unfortunately the error isn’t limited to just desktop iTunes users, as many iPad and iPhone owners are having the same sign in problems.
The entire Cult of Mac staff checked our devices and everything seems fine here, but there’s a long Apple support forum thread of people claiming everything isn’t peachy, with other threads popping up in other categories as well. One forum user said Apple Support claimed they were aware of the server issue on their end, while others received a lot more resistance from Apple’s support staff.
MacLife reports that they’ve also experienced the issue, first on their iPad only but then the Fatal Error began to appear on their Mac as well. Affected users say that so far password resets haven’t helped in the slightest bit, while Apple’s Services status page currently states that there are no known issues or outages as of 8:45AM PST.
Apple has yet to address the issue but we’ve reached out for comment and will update you with more info when it’s available.
Apple on Monday posted to its Online Apple Store a list of deadline dates by which buyers must get in their orders to guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve, while also announcing free shipping on all orders during the holiday shopping season.
As it has done in the past, Apple is offering free standard shipping on all orders placed through its online store from now until Dec. 22, while late shoppers will likely be able to take advantage of no-cost next-day air shortly thereafter.
In addition to the free shipping fees, which are usually reserved for purchases over $50, Apple put up its yearly order deadlines for guaranteed Dec. 24 delivery. Currently, standard configuration Macs, iPhone 5c, non-Retina iPad mini, non-engraved iPad 2 and all iPods are showing an order deadlines of Dec. 18.
Hot-selling items like the iPhone 5s and iPad Air need to be ordered by Dec. 12 and Dec. 9, respectively, while those looking to buy an iPad mini with Retina display must get their order in by Dec. 5.
Apple has been facing supply constraints for the iPhone 5s since launch, though the handset has become more widely available as production begins to meet demand. The Retina iPad mini, however, continues to see stock outs in some brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, while the company's online storefront is quoting availability at 5 to 10 days.
In a report earlier on Monday, Deutsch Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said a weekend poll of Apple Stores, wireless phone carrier outlets and big-box retailers showed solid inventory for "robust" iPhone 5s demand. The poll played out differently for the iPad mini with Retina display, however. Some 13 percent of Apple Stores saw stock outs of the Wi-Fi version of the device, while 20 percent ran out of cellular models.
Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent that uses facial recognition technology to control a computing device, like an iPhone, iPad or Mac, allowing for a more secure and productive operating environment.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,600,120 for "Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition," a property that looks to beef up device security as well as make the computing experience more convenient for users.
As noted in the document, face detection and recognition are two different processes. Detection involves locating faces within an image, while recognition goes deeper by pairing those faces with a particular person or user. Typically, facial recognition follows detection.
Apple's patent comprises three separate systems: a face detection decision application; a face recognition application; and an input/output control application. These systems work together to detect whether a user is authorized to operate a given device, and if so, activate certain functions within the computing environment.
In practice, the detection application can scan a defined area where a user is expected to appear, using knowledge-based, feature-based or template matching techniques to identify faces. A number of features are taken into consideration with the matching techniques, including relationships of facial features, identification of facial structures like skin tone, shape, and skin texture, and encoded learning models.
As for facial recognition, at least one embodiment compares face feature vector data, gathered from an image output by an on-board camera, with stored vector data. These vectors can range from face shapes to distance between facial features, such as eyes and nose.
Using the vector data, the system determines whether a user is authorized to operate the device and controls data input/output based on this information.
For example, during an incoming phone call, an iPhone may be able to "sense" that someone is looking at the device's screen. If the person is not an authorized user, the iPhone's screen remains off and only a ringtone or vibration alert is provided. If the person is an authorized user, the usual incoming call UI is displayed.
In another example, an incoming email can be blocked from view unless the authorized user's face is detected by the system. This implementation would be helpful for users who choose to display part of the message in the lock screen.
Display Audio's HondaLink Navigation powered by an iPhone
Display Audio represents perhaps the deepest integration seen from any automaker between smartphones and in-vehicle infotainment systems. In addition to combining several now-standard phone-connected functions — like placing and receiving calls and messages over bluetooth — with a new pinch- and swipe-able touchscreen user interface, Display Audio acts as a "second screen" for Honda's suite of HondaLink apps.
The HondaLink suite consists of four apps: Connect, Navigation, Aha, and Launcher. Connect powers most of Display Audio's information search functionality, giving owners access to things like point-of-interest search, local weather, and maintenance reminders. Aha focuses on entertainment, providing access to internet radio — in addition to the built-in Pandora integration — podcasts, audiobooks, news, and Twitter and Facebook access.
HondaLink's Navigation app is the most interesting of the group. Leveraging mapping data from Nokia, Navigation can be used outside of the vehicle to plan a trip, and the route can be displayed and edited on the Display Audio touchscreen, with turn-by-turn announcements routed through the vehicle's audio system once the user's iPhone is plugged in.
The touchscreen itself is a high-definition capacitive model measuring 7 inches diagonally, which Honda says is among the largest in its class. Display Audio will also integrate Apple's Siri Eyes Free mode, making the personal digital assistant a factory-installed option rather than the dealer-installed add-on Honda announced last month.
The Display Audio system is compatible with Apple's iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s, which connect to the vehicle via a special cable. While not a full implementation of Apple's iOS in the Car, Display Audio and the new HondaLink apps represent a significant leap forward in smartphone-vehicle integration.