Financial Times report via 9 to 5 Mac:
The Financial Times is reporting that Apple considered a buyout of Time Warner late last year, with Apple executive Eddy Cue raising the idea at a meeting with Time Warner's head of corporate strategy, Olaf Olafsson. The idea of bid was very much tentative and did not enter serious negotiations involving Tim Cook, according to the report. However, Apple is still interested in acquiring media company talent and sources indicate the company is ramping spending on original content: "several hundred million dollars a year".
Sounds like it wasn't very serious, but not sure what Apple would do with cable and broadband company. That's well outside of Apple's area of operation. Perhaps there was talk of acquiring content creation divisions such as HBO or Warner Brothers.
Either way, seems Apple wants to be a player in the original content business.
Hacker reveals how he social engineered his victims
Romanian hacker Marcel Lazar known as Guccifer (great alias) plead guilty this week in the United States. He was charged with unauthorized access to protected computers and aggravated identity theft. As part of his plea he discussed how he broke into accounts using only social engineering.
How Lazar gained access to Romanian politician's email:
Lazar claims that he broke into Cretu's Yahoo email account after guessing the answer to her security question: The street where she grew up. First he found the name of the primary school that she attended on her public Facebook page. Then he methodically tried out street names close to Cretu's childhood school until he found the right one, correctly assuming that she attended a school close to her home.
Something to consider when filling out those password recovery prompts. It might be best to have some fake answers or intentional misspellings memorized.
Microsoft basically quits the phone business
Peter Bright for Ars Technica:
Microsoft bought Nokia's Devices and Services business in 2013 for $7.1 billion. In July last year, Microsoft laid off 7,800 of the staff from that acquisition and took an impairment charge of $7.6 billion. The remaining feature phone portion of the business was sold off last week for $350 million. With today's announcement, the smartphone hardware business is being all but wiped out. There will be one last impairment charge of approximately $950 million, of which $200 million is severance pay.
Yikes. Microsoft, however, says it plans to still occupy the mobile phone business, but in a very narrow space. CEO Nadella says it will focus on "enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same."
Microsoft is still very entrenched in enterprise, so there's likely a lot leverage there for corporate devices. iPhone and Android devices, however, are likely to still be favored simply because it's what employees want to use. So, essentially Microsoft seems to be targeting very specialized situations where employees can't be offered a choice. Or perhaps Microsoft will go back to the old playbook of convincing technology departments that Microsoft solutions are best for them regardless of what users may want.
Twitter announces some tweet content won't count towards character limits
In the coming months we'll make changes to simplify Tweets including what counts toward your 140 characters, so for instance, @names in replies and media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) will no longer "use up" valuable characters.
I think this is a good movie. URL shorteners keep getting longer and pose some security concerns. Now things like photos and links won't interfere with your message. At the same time, Twitter won't be messing with the best part of Twitter, which is its brevity.
Otterbox announces uniVERSE modular case for iPhone 6/Plus, 6s/Plus
Tuesday Otterbox announced a new protective case for the iPhone 6/6 Plus and iPhone 6s/6s Plus. The uniVERSE is a modular system that works with a wide range of popular third-party products. For example, you can attach an olloclip, Square reader, among other products.
Available now or coming soon:
Square Contactless & Chip Reader
olloclip 4-in-1 lens
SanDisk iXpand™ Flash Drive
Nite Ize Steelie Vent Mount Kit
Goal Zero Slide Battery
Manatee Works StingRay Barcode Scanner
Seek Thermal Compact Camera and Seek Case
Influx WiFi Booster
PolarPro Trippler Tripod
PolarPro Stance Compact Tripod
PolarPro PowerPack Removable Battery Pack
PolarPro Beat Pulsar Wireless Mobile Speaker
PolarPro Fisheye Wide-Angle Lens
PolarPro Trail Blazer Armband
PolarPro Stash Slim Mobile Wallet
The uniVERSE Case System is available now for $49.95 for the iPhone 6/6s and $$59.95 for the iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus
Maine trading in some iPads for MacBook Air
Deployed in 2013, the state of Maine funded an initiative to give students iPads. After reviewing the program, it appears many feel laptops are a better fit for older students.
The Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal
Before Auburn decided what to do, the district surveyed grades seven through 12 students and teachers, Auburn School Department Technology Director Peter Robinson told the Auburn School Committee on Wednesday night.
The results were overwhelmingly in favor of laptops: 88.5 percent of teachers and 74 percent of students favored them over iPads.
The results "are pretty darn clear," Robinson said. The survey findings "made the decision for us."
Three years ago, after seeing success with the iPads in primary grades, "I thought iPads were absolutely the right choice," Robinson said. Now, he said, iPads have shortcomings for older students.
With that said, it appears teachers weren't fully up to speed on how to integrate iPads into the curriculum. Not surprisingly, without direction students seemed to have other ideas on how to best use the technology.
The state "underestimated how different an iPad is from a laptop," Muir said. Laptops do better coding and programming and allow students to do more, he said. Student use of iPads could have been better if the Maine Department of Education encouraged more teacher training, Muir said.
Good news is people seem to be at least responsive in finding solutions that work best for students and just not what seems like a good idea by policy-makers.
iOS Touch ID may be able to unlock Macs in OS X 10.12
Juli Clover for MacRumors:
There has been speculation Apple might introduce dedicated Touch ID fingerprint scanning hardware for the Mac, but as it turns out, Apple is working on a simpler way to allow a Touch ID to unlock a Mac, and it's a feature that could be included in OS X 10.12.
Apple engineers are designing an auto unlock function that would allow an iPhone to unlock a Mac when in close proximity, alleviating the need to enter a password on a password-protected Mac.
Both the benefits and method seems kind of an obvious feature. Touch ID allows for greater security by making it easier to not only have a password on your device, but a more secure password that instantly locks. That also translates to the desktop, even though keyboard entry makes complex passwords easier than on a more limited touch screen.
This seems a natural feature by the way iOS and OS X have been integrating with features such as Handoff. It seems a logical next step that if two devices are trusted via iCloud credentials one could unlock the other.
The alliterative is dedicated fingerprint readers on Macs. Offering it as an external keyboard and built-in laptops would be pretty slick. Perhaps that's coming too, although will be a much slower roll out.
Why you have to enter your passcode when you wake up
Glenn Fleishman for Macworld:
When iOS 9 was released, Apple updated its list of cases in which iOS asks for a passcode even when Touch ID is enabled. A previously undocumented requirement asks for a passcode in a very particular set of circumstances: When the iPhone or iPad hasn't been unlocked with its passcode in the previous six days, and Touch ID hasn't been used to unlock it within the last eight hours. It's a rolling timeout, so each time Touch ID unlocks a device, a new eight-hour timer starts to tick down until the passcode is required. If you wondered why you were being seemingly randomly prompted for your passcode (or more complicated password), this is likely the reason.
Interesting development. I think I'd prefer maybe an extra hour or two just to avoid unnecessary passcode entry on a somewhat regular basis. I like the idea suggested in the column regarding including a geofence option, in addition to letting users choose their own timeout.
Netflix announces its own Internet speed tool
We all want a faster, better Internet, yet Internet speeds vary greatly and can be affected by other users on your network or congestion with your Internet service provider. When you're experiencing streaming issues, fast.com allows you to check the download speeds you're getting from your Internet service provider. Using Netflix servers, fast.com works like other globally available tools including speedtest.net, and the results should be similar in most cases.
ISPs seem to be playing games with broadband test sites such as speedtest.net. Comcast, for example, hosts a test server on its network. Since the automated test tried seeks out the best server, tests may be a better reflection of Comcast's internal infrastructure rather than real world tests once you leave the ISP. By hosting its own speed test, perhaps customers can get a better insight into how their connection is performing where it matter to them.
Apple announces app incubator in India
Tim Cook appears to be on a goodwill tour. After visiting China where Apple invested $1 billion in a ride sharing service, Cook visited India where Apple announced an app incubator. Called an iOS app design and development accelerator, the goal is to support India's iOS developer community.
Recently, India's government ruled to prohibit Apple from reselling refurbished products. The protectionist policy blocks Apple from competing in India by using less expensive refurbished products. Similarly, governmental relations with China could be better. Apple likely hopes to open access to both large consumer markets to boost its global sales.