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Apple Addresses iOS ‘Backdoor’ Concerns by Outlining Legitimate Uses for Targeted Services

apple_security_iconEarlier this week, forensic expert Jonathan Zdziarski attracted attention for his disclosures of what appeared to be "backdoors" in iOS that could allow for covert data collection of users' information from their devices. While Apple issued a statement denying that anything nefarious was involved, the company has now posted a new support document (via Cabel Sasser) offering a limited description of the three services highlighted in Zdziarski's talk.
Each of these diagnostic capabilities requires the user to have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer. Any data transmitted between the iOS device and trusted computer is encrypted with keys not shared with Apple. For users who have enabled iTunes Wi-Fi Sync on a trusted computer, these services may also be accessed wirelessly by that computer.
The three processes include:

- com.apple.mobile.pcapd: Diagnostic packet capture to a trusted computer, used for diagnosing app issues and enterprise VPN connection problems.

- com.apple.mobile.file_relay: Used on internal devices and can be accessed (with user permission) by AppleCare for diagnostic purposes on the user's device.

- com.apple.mobile.house_arrest: Used by iTunes for document transfer and by Xcode during app development and testing.

Security experts will undoubtedly have additional questions about just how these services work and whether there are better and more secure ways of accomplishing the tasks they handle. At the very least, however, today's disclosure demonstrates a willingness by Apple to share information about the legitimate need for these services and should help quell unsupported speculation that Apple has worked with security agencies to implement these tools to allow for covert surveillance.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite May Launch Separately Despite Integration Features

While iOS and Mac OS X have traditionally followed different release schedules, Apple's recently announced Continuity features suggested it was possible for Apple's two operating systems to debut at the same time. However, Apple is planning to stagger the releases of both iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite, reports 9to5Mac, citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans.

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iOS 8 is expected to launch in September alongside the iPhone 6 while OS X Yosemite will not launch until October. Apple used the same release schedule last year, launching iOS 7 alongside the iPhone 5s in September and OS X Mavericks one month later in October.

Continuity allows users to work seamlessly between iPhone, iPad and Mac, with the ability to start emails on one device and easily finish it on another, or using Macs and iPads to answer phone calls and "green bubble" text messages. Because iOS and OS X have never been designed to work better together than with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, many saw a dual release as a good opportunity for Apple to cross-promote both its iOS devices and Macs with a stand-out new feature like Continuity.

Apple is planning on using engineering and user interface design members from the iOS team to help complete OS X Yosemite in time for a fall release, with a public beta planned as early as later this month.


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Apple Facing Class Action Lawsuit From 20,000 Employees Over Alleged Labor Code Violations

Apple is facing a class action lawsuit in California over a number of alleged Labor Code violations, with the company being accused of not providing timely meal breaks, timely rest breaks, and timely final paychecks, reports TechCrunch.
Plaintiffs bring this Class Action against Defendants to recover for, among other things, failure to provide meal and rest periods, failure to furnish accurate itemized wage statements, and failure to pay timely wages on the end of employment, interest, attorneys' fees, penalties, costs, and expenses on behalf of themselves, the Plaintiff Class, and the Plaintiff Subclasses.
Originally filed in December of 2011 by four former Apple retail and corporate employees in San Diego, the lawsuit was certified as class action yesterday and could affect up to 20,000 current and former Apple employees in the state of California.

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According to the filing, which demands a jury trial, employee complaints cover a wide range of possible labor code violations. One complaint, for example, cites employees having to work for five hours straight without a meal break, while another complaint suggests that Apple took several weeks to send out a final check to multiple employees.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages and restitution of all monies due to affected employees from unlawful business practices, along with interest, but it does not specify a damages amount.

Along with this new class action lawsuit, Apple is embroiled in a class action lawsuit with Apple retail employees who allege that Apple's bag checking policies have resulted in lost wages, a suit that also accuses Apple of violating state labor laws.




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iPad Sales Total 225 Million Units Since 2010 as Apple Claims ‘Significant Innovation’ Coming

During today's earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared new information on the state of the iPad, including details on overall sales since the product launched a little over four years ago, recent growth in different markets, and hints at future plans. It was revealed earlier that sales of the iPad were down for the second straight quarter in a row, as the company sold a total of 13.3 million iPads, down from 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

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Cook said that iPad sales have totaled to 225 million units since 2010, as the current iPad Air and iPad mini have hit 98% and 100% customer satisfaction, respectively. According to recent market studies, 63% of customers planning to buy a tablet are planning to buy an iPad, while half of all iPad buyers were planning to buy their first iPad.

Additionally, Apple noted that 2.5 iPads are being sold for every Mac, as the tablet now holds an 85% share of the U.S. education market. Internationally, the iPad also experienced a 50% growth in China and 60% growth in the Middle East year-over-year.

In reaction to iPad sales being down, Cook noted "significant innovation can be brought to the iPad", stating "[Apple] plans on doing that" and that the tablet category as a whole is still "in its infancy." Recent reports have pointed to Apple launching updated models of the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini later this year, with each likely to come with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a faster A8 processor.

The company is also rumored to be preparing a larger "iPad Pro" which is said to feature a 12.9-inch ultra high-definition display. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the iPad Pro in 2015, but a recent report noted that Apple's plans may be on hold for the foreseeable feature.


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Apple Acquired 29 Companies Since Beginning of Fiscal 2014, Including Five Since April

During today's third quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple has purchased a total of 29 companies over the course of the last nine months, including five new companies after the end of the March quarter. Of the 29 companies purchased, some are known but many remain unknown.

Only two of Apple's newest acquisitions have been revealed, including LuxVue Technology in early May Spotsetter in June, leaving three unknown acquisitions. The May acquisition of Beats was not counted in the 29 company total because the deal, which was Apple's most expensive purchase to date, doesn't close until this quarter. After the Beats deal closes, the total number of acquisitions will rise to 30.

beats.png
Earlier in 2014, Apple acquired SnappyLabs, a company that produced a burst-mode photo app, and Burstly, the company behind the Testflight iOS beta testing platform.

Many of the other acquisitions were made in 2013, and those purchases focused heavily on mapping. 2013 acquisitions included mapping companies BroadMap, Embark, HopStop, Locationary, and WiFiSlam, along with other notable additions like 3D company PrimeSense and Novauris, a speech recognition company.

The technology from Apple's acquisitions will undoubtedly make its way into future products and updates. For example, significant mapping updates are expected sometime after the launch of iOS 8, adding transit directions and improved indoor mapping techniques.

During the company's April earnings call, Tim Cook said Apple was "on the prowl" for additional companies to acquire and in today's call, Cook said that Apple is always looking at acquisition space and doesn't let "money burn a hole in our pocket."


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Apple Reports Q3 2014 Results: $7.7 Billion Profit on Record $37.4 Billion in Revenue

Apple LogoApple today announced financial results for the second calendar quarter and third fiscal quarter of 2014. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $37.4 billion and net quarterly profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $35.3 billion and net quarterly profit of $6.9 billion, or $1.07 per diluted share in the year-ago quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter was 39.4 percent compared to 36.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, with international sales accounting for 59 percent of revenue. Apple also declared an upcoming dividend payment of $3.29 per share, payable on August 14 to shareholders of record as of August 11. The company currently holds $164.5 billion in cash and marketable securities.

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Quarterly iPhone unit sales reached 35.2 million, up from 31.2 million in the year-ago quarter, and the company sold 13.3 million iPads, down from 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 4.4 million Macs, up from 3.8 million in the year-ago period.
“Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce.”
Apple's guidance for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 includes expected revenue of $37-40 billion and gross margin between 37 and 38 percent.

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Apple will provide live streaming of its fiscal Q3 2014 financial results conference call at 2:00 PM Pacific, and MacRumors will update this story with coverage of the conference call highlights.


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Apple Reports Q3 2014 Results: $7.7 Billion Profit on June Quarter Record $37.4 Billion in Revenue [Call Complete]

Apple LogoApple today announced financial results for the second calendar quarter and third fiscal quarter of 2014. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $37.4 billion and net quarterly profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $35.3 billion and net quarterly profit of $6.9 billion, or $1.07 per diluted share in the year-ago quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter was 39.4 percent compared to 36.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, with international sales accounting for 59 percent of revenue. Apple also declared an upcoming dividend payment of $0.47 per share, payable on August 14 to shareholders of record as of August 11. The company currently holds $164.5 billion in cash and marketable securities.

linechart
Quarterly iPhone unit sales reached 35.2 million, up from 31.2 million in the year-ago quarter, and the company sold 13.3 million iPads, down from 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 4.4 million Macs, up from 3.8 million in the year-ago period.
“Our record June quarter revenue was fueled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce.”
Apple's guidance for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 includes expected revenue of $37-40 billion and gross margin between 37 and 38 percent.

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Apple will provide live streaming of its fiscal Q3 2014 financial results conference call at 2:00 PM Pacific, and MacRumors will update this story with coverage of the conference call highlights.

Earnings call highlights are available after the jump.
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