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Apple Skirts Tech Addiction Issue in Response to Worried Investors

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Apple on Monday responded to an open letter from investors who called for the company to address the negative impact of the iPhone on children and teens. Though the company listed a number of controls provided to help parents screen content, it offered little to address the investors’ chief concern: the amount of time teens and younger children spend on phones.

Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which together have invested about US$2 billion in Apple, on Saturday published the letter, which urges Apple to give parents more choices and tools to help ensure that young consumers are using the company’s products “in an optimal manner.”

There is a growing body of evidence that frequent use of Apple’s products by young people could be having unintentional negative consequences, notes the letter, which is signed by Jana Managing Partner Barry Rosenstein and CalSTRS’ Director of Corporate Governance Anne Sheehan.

The average American teenager who uses a smartphone first obtains a phone at age 10 and spends more than 4.5 hours a day on it — excluding texting and talking, Rosenstein and Sheehan pointed out.

Seventy-eight percent of teens check their phones at least hourly, and 50 percent report feeling “addicted” to their phones, they added.

“It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage, by children whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact, or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally,” Rosenstein and Sheehan wrote.

Apple Responds

Apple touted its efforts to look after the interests of both kids and parents within its ecosystem in a statement released to the press on Monday.

The company’s operating system has built-in controls in its operating system that enable parents to control and restrict content, Apple said, including apps, movies, websites, songs and books.

Parents also can block or restrict cellular data usage, control passwords, and block kids from accessing or downloading anything online.

Apple keeps offensive content such as pornography out of its curated platforms, and it clearly labels apps, movies and songs to allow parents to judge age-appropriateness, the statement maintains.

Further, the company promised to add new, more robust features and functionality to its parent controls in the future.

Kudos for Investors

The Apple investors who called on the company to address the potential negative consequences of its mobile products won praise from James P. Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media.

“We are very pleased to see that leading shareholders have spoken out about their concerns for the health and safety of kids on cell phones and online,” he said. “It is a hugely important development for shareholders to take public action like this on digital addiction and inappropriate cellphone behavior.”

Apple should take a more proactive stance in addressing the issue of addiction, tweeted Tony Fadell, coinventor of the iPod and iPhone.

‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’

Although Apple has broad shoulders, dropping the full weight of technology addiction on it may be a little unfair.

“The iPhone is not any more problematic than other handheld devices that provide access to social media and games,” said Timothy A. Pychyl, an associate professor in the psychology department at Carleton University.

“We are, as Neil Postman said, ‘amusing ourselves to death’ across many platforms,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“We waste a considerable amount of our lives playing with technology. By that, I don’t mean gaming per se, but in mindless clicking to view content that has no consequence to us other than entertainment,” Pychyl said. “These constant distractions are undermining our ability to move forward on our own goals and, as other researchers have pointed out, typically undermine our well being.”

Jonesing for a Screen

As earnest as Apple may be to offset the negative impact of technology on children’s lives, it may be an uphill battle.

“I don’t know if we can make technology less addictive,” observed Gregory Jantz, author of Ten Tips for Parenting the Smartphone Generation.

When tech addicts check in at Jantz’s treatment center, every device with a screen is quarantined, he told TechNewsWorld.

“About the second day, people start getting sweaty palms, headaches, upset digestion — their heart rate increases. They’re going through physical withdrawal, and they demand to have their devices back,” Jantz said.

“I don’t think it’s a fair expectation to expect Apple to deal with addiction,” he added. “Apple has done some great things with parental control on devices, but that’s not going to make them nonaddictive.”

A Software Problem

Use of the term “addiction” to describe obsessive smartphone behavior can be problematic, cautioned Joseph Lee, youth continuum medical director at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

“Obsession with video games and Internet pornography is a closer parallel to what we see with substance use than text messaging or using an app,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“You can be conditioned to be compulsive about a lot of different behaviors, but addiction only starts to surface when those compulsive behaviors and preoccupation start to take you away from life priorities,” Lee explained.

Compulsive behavior is more a software than hardware problem, he added.

“It’s not about battery life or a fancy screen. It’s the things within that technology, like social media, that become very rewarding and habitual,” Lee said. “Those things come with strings attached. They influence people’s thinking, and they influence our national culture, and we’re not fully aware of the ramifications from that yet

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iPhone X Face ID isn’t bulletproof after all, claims Vietnamese cyber-security firm

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When it launched its new handset, the iPhone X, Apple claimed that its Face ID is basically impossible to bypass. While it does seem to be more efficient than the Samsung Galaxy S8’s facial recognition feature, the iPhone X’s Face ID isn’t bulletproof either. Vietnamese cybersecurity firm Bkav recently came forward stating that the Face ID can be fooled by a relatively cheap mask. The mask doesn’t even have to look exactly like the user, it only has to focus on some points in order to unlock the iPhone X. The nose, the eyes, and the mouth are the only cut-outs that need to perfectly match the user’s eyes, nose, and mouth, and these can even be 2D images of these facial features.

According to Bkav, the mask is a combination of 3D printing, makeup, and 2D images. It costs around $150 to make and it can fool the Face ID feature of Apple’s iPhone X and unlock the phone. Of course, regular iPhone X users probably shouldn’t worry too much about this problem. It’s not their handsets hackers are usually after. instead, they focus on leaders of countries or major corporations, whose smartphones might contain important and valuable information regarding their work. The fact that a $150 mask can bypass the Face ID is, in this case, a major problem.

Other researchers already tried and failed to bypass the Face ID on the iPhone X with silicone masks, so, for a while, this security feature seemed to be quite effective. Unfortunately, it seems that the iPhone X’s facial recognition software isn’t unbeatable either. It is quite surprising that the mask doesn’t even have to be very life-like. As you can see in the video below, it only contains 2D cut-outs of some of the user’s facial features, and the rest looks like a bandaged face. Of course, in order to be able to bypass the security feature, the mask needs to be accurate when it comes to the depths of the other features. After all, it needs to trick Apple’s True Depth sensor.

It is also concerning that it took the researcher less than a week to make the mask that is able to fool the Face ID feature of Apple’s flagship. Of course, we didn’t think that this is indeed a bulletproof feature, but we did hope that it will be harder to crack than this. Apple will probably further improve the software to make sure that tricking it is not as easy as it is today. Even so, the face ID is a lot harder to trick than the Touch ID was, so this is definitely a step forward.

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2018 iPhones Predicted To Have Upgraded Antenna Design

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Apple is believed to be preparing new iPhone models with upgraded antenna design in order for the smartphones to have ultra-fast LTE transmission speeds. The news comes just days after it was reported that the next-generation iOS devices from the Cupertino giant could come with Intel XMM 7560 and Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 processors.

This Tuesday, KGI Securities analyst and famous Apple leaker Ming-Chi Kuo disclosed in a research note to investors a new prediction for the upcoming iPhone installments. According to Kuo, Apple could be using at least two liquid crystal polymer (LCP) antenna modules for its upcoming iPhone handsets. While this technology is similar to the one found on the iPhone X, Kuo says there will be improvements to the antenna design so that it could support 4×4 MIMO standards, as per MacRumors.

“Antenna design upgrade [is] a key factor in anticipated boost to LTE transmission speed in new 2H18F iPhone models. As a LTE antenna FPCB material, LCP is superior to PI in properties related to high-frequency, thermal performance and moisture resistance. We predict 2H18 new iPhones will be equipped with two LCP LTE antenna modules same as iPhone X or more, but with higher specs to support 4×4 MIMO standards,” Kuo stated in the note.

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Teenager dies after being electrocuted by her iPhone charger while she slept

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The dangers of knockoff phone chargers

 A teenage girl who was sleeping next to a damaged iPhone charging cable has died after rolling over it and being electrocuted. Police from the Hoan Kiem district of Vietnamese capital Hanoi said a tear in the rubber casing might have revealed live wires that killed 14-year-old Le Thi Xoan.

It appears that Xoan regularly plugged in her iPhone 6 and slept next to the handset while it was charging. Her parents discovered she was unconscious and rushed the schoolgirl to the local hospital where they were unable to revive her. Medics confirmed electrocution as the cause of death.

As you can see from the photo above, the cable was damaged, and it appears someone had tried to repair it with some clear tape.

Authorities still haven’t confirmed if the cable was an official Apple product or part of a third-party knockoff, but given how much shorter it looks than one of Apple’s cables, it seems the latter option is most likely. Moreover, the tragedy was almost certainly due to a faulty USB power adaptor allowing the full mains voltage to travel through the cable.

Back in December last year, the UK Standards body revealed that 99 percent of fake Apple chargers sold were unsafe. They are often poorly built with inferior or missing parts, flawed designs, and inadequate electrical insulation.

In March, a coroner said Apple’s devices should come with warnings not to charge them in bathrooms after a man was electrocuted and died when his iPhone charger touched the bathwater he was lying in.

“[iPhones] seem like innocuous devices but they can be as dangerous as a hairdryer in a bathroom. They should carry warnings. I intend to write a report later to the makers of the phone,” said Dr. Sean Cummings.

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iPhone With Dual-SIM Support Due in 2018, Apple Looking to Intel for Modems: Kuo

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo reveals dual-SIM iPhone models for 2018
  • Unlike traditional models, dual-SIM iPhone reported with LTE+LTE support
  • Apple rumoured to be parting way with Qualcomm to opt 5G on future iPhone

Amid the success story of the iPhone X, Apple is now reported to be bringing new iPhone models in 2018 with dual-SIM support. The Cupertino company is also rumoured to be in talks with Intel to provide 5G modems on a future iPhone to deliver a faster experience.

Supporting two networks with dual-SIM card slots is quite common among handsets developed by companies like Samsung and Xiaomi. But if we believe the latest research note by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone models that would be debuted in the second half of 2018, as the successors of the iPhone X, will include dual-SIM support with dual-standby technology. Kuo stated that unlike the existing dual-SIM offerings that generally had a combination of LTE and 3G connectivity, Apple was planning to bring support for two LTE networks consequently to enhance user experience.

The note, as reported by Mac Rumors, also points to the expanded reliability on Intel for developing 70 to 80 percent of the baseband chips for future iPhone models. Kuo believes that Apple is particularly opting for Intel’s XMM7560 in addition to Qualcomm’s SDX 20 models to make wireless connectivity on new the iPhone versions faster than their existing models.

FastCompany, in a separate report, claims that for a future iPhone model, Apple is opting an Intel 5G modem. Citing a source with a knowledge familiar to the development, the report highlights that instead of relying on Qualcomm to enable faster connectivity, Apple engineers are considering Intel’s 5G modem as the best-fit for the future iPhone.

It is unclear whether the 5G-enabled iPhone model will be debuted in 2018. However, it appears certain that Apple is looking to reduce reliance on Qualcomm, thanks to its ongoing litigation. Earlier this month, Qualcomm had sued Apple for breaching its contract and allegedly sharing information with Intel for making broadband modems for its mobile devices.

A recent report by Reuters even suggested that 2018 iPhone and iPad models would debut sans Qualcomm’s modems. Moreover, Qualcomm last month filed the suits in a Beijing intellectual property court to halt the manufacturing and sales of iPhones in China.

Nevertheless, 5G is something that Apple would need to adopt in the coming future to take on the competition. Qualcomm’s CEO Steven Mollenkopf recently projected that 5G smartphones would become mainstream across key markets in 2019. The San Diego-based company unveiled the Snapdragon 636 as its first 5G-supported mobile chipset last month that is likely to power a range of affordable Android smartphones in the coming future. The chipset was based on Snapdragon X50 5G modem that was showcased last year.

Countering Qualcomm, Intel previewed its 5G modem for mobile devices at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 earlier this year. The chip maker is also upgrading its existing 5G equipment to allow telecom companies run trials based on standards that will be released in future.

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