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Apple settles with Immersion over haptic feedback licensing

In 2016, haptic technology company Immersion filed two rounds of lawsuits against Apple. Both alleged that the tech giant had infringed upon some of Immersion’s patents with the first focusing on the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus as well as Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition. The second added the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines to its complaint. Immersion also filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), which launched an investigation into the alleged patent violations a few months later. But the saga may be nearing an end because today, Immersion announced that the two companies have reached a settlement.

Immersion says that the settlement terms are confidential and we therefore don’t have a lot of details about what the agreement gets either company. Immersion does say that it’s a global settlement, so it’s likely, whatever the agreement is, it will apply to both companies’ ventures both in and outside of the US. Apple has agreed to license some of Immersion’s technology, according to the announcement, but it’s unclear if all of the patents named in the two lawsuits are a part of that licensing agreement. It’s also unclear if the two suits and the ITC complaint will be wiped away, but it seems unlikely that Apple would enter such an agreement without that being a stipulation.

Apple is certainly not the only company to be targeted by Immersion. The firm has previously brought lawsuits against Microsoft, Sony and Google, to name a few.

Via: AppleInsider

Source: Immersion


BMW takes full ownership of DriveNow’s car sharing service (updated)

BMW has been synonymous with DriveNow’s car sharing service for several years, and today it’s cementing that commitmen. The German auto brand has taken full ownership of DriveNow by acquiring Sixt’s stake in the company. This gives BMW “all options” for mobility services in the future — it’s free to take the tech-savvy rental platform in whichever direction it likes. For now, business will continue as usual with DriveNow acting as a BMW subsidiary.

We’ve asked how this will affect ReachNow, DriveNow’s North American equivalent, and will let you know what BMW can say.

The acquisition comes hot on the heels of BMW’s buyout of Parkmobile (which it also had a stake in), and creates a clearer picture of the automaker’s overall strategy: it wants to offer services that cover every aspect of driving, whether it’s renting a car in a hurry or finding a place to park while you shop. Like its rivals, BMW is preparing for the decline of car ownership as people shift to on-demand rentals, ridesharing and (eventually) self-driving cars. DriveNow not only gives BMW a source of income in those conditions, but guarantees a reliable destination for its vehicles.

Update: BMW tells us that this doesn’t affect ReachNow.

Source: BMW


White House says it’s not considering a national 5G network

Yesterday, Axios reported that the Trump administration was considering the option of a government-controlled 5G network. Documents obtained by Axios showed that Trump’s national security team had proposed a couple of options, including one where the US government funds and constructs a single network, aimed at protecting US networks from Chinese cyberattacks. However, Recode now reports that those documents were outdated and their proposed plans are not actively being considered by the administration.

Recode’s White House sources said that not only was the document old, it was also not any sort of serious proposal on the National Security Council’s part. The idea had been put out there by a staff member, but was not part of any major upcoming policy shifts and likely never would be.

Today, FCC Chair Ajit Pai released a statement opposing such an idea saying, “The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades — including American leadership in 4G — is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment.” Pai added, “Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.”

Via: Recode


UK to fine companies up to £17 million for cybersecurity lapses

The UK government will fine companies in “critical industries” up to £17 million if they have woefully inadequate cybersecurity defences. The penalty system is a response to an EU directive, passed in August 2016, that was drawn up to ensure its member states are prepared for modern cyber attacks. Known as the NIS directive, it will be transplanted into UK law to protect health, energy, transport and digital infrastructure. The fines will be a “last resort,” however, and take into account how co-operative the company has been with their relevant regulator, the actions taken to remedy the situation, and any other law that might have been breached.

The UK government consulted on its plans to introduce the fee system in August and September last year. It will apply to “operators of essential services,” a term that varies depending on the industry. In the transport sector, for instance, it includes airport operators and harbour authorities with more than 10 million annual passengers. The category can also apply to mainline railway operators, large passenger and freight water transport companies, and international rail services. In the “digital” realm, it covers Top Level Domain (TLD) name registries, Domain Name Services (DNS) service providers and Internet Exchange Point (IXP) operators.

Operators of essential services (OES) will need to report cybersecurity incidents above a yet to be determined threshold to their relevant Competent Authority (CA). These government-appointed regulators vary by industry: Ofcom will handle digital infrastructure, for instance, while the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) — supported by the Drinking Water Inspectorate — will deal with water supply and distribution. “Digital Service Providers,” which include search engines, online marketplaces and cloud computing services, will need to report similar instances to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). It’s not clear, however, if they fall under the same fee system as OES.

“The Government can reassure Digital Service Providers that both it, and the Competent Authority will approach implementation of the NIS Directive in a reasonable fashion,” the government said in a consultation document last weekend. “Companies will be given time to implement the requirements of the Directive.” Guidance on the NIS Directive has been released by the National Cyber Security Centre. The rules come into effect on May 10th and will, the government hopes, minimise the next WannaCry and persuade companies to keep up with best cybersecurity practices.

Via: BBC

Source: GOV.UK


Dell may sell itself to VMware, a company it already owns

Dell has been a privately run company for more than 4 years, but it appears ready to return to public life — in a convoluted way. CNBC sources have claimed that Dell is exploring a “reverse merger” with VMware where the virtual machine maker (80 percent owned by Dell following the EMC deal) would buy its parent and let the resulting company go public without having to launch a new stock offering. It would also let Dell pay off some of its roughly $50 billion in debt.

This isn’t set in stone. The tipsters also said that a number of alternatives are on the table, including a straightforward public offering, other takeovers (the targets haven’t been named) or buying the remaining 20 percent stake of VMware. Dell is unlikely to sell to an outside company or give up VMware, however.

Dell has declined to comment on the report.

A reverse merger would be one of the more “audacious” options for Dell, but it would reflect how much things have changed for Dell in the space of a few years. It went private at a time when it was struggling and wanted the freedom to restructure without the pressure that comes with publicly traded stock. The situation isn’t completely rosy going into 2018 — Dell posted a $941 million net loss in its latest quarter, due in part to paying off $1.7 billion of its debt. It’s in a stronger position than it was in 2013, however, with less dependence on its PC business. A reverse merger could easily help it cut costs and raise funds that would otherwise be out of reach.

Source: CNBC


Step inside the Unabomber investigation in VR

In 1996, law enforcement officials arrested Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, after nearly two decades of investigation. But it wasn’t until the Washington Post and the New York Times published Kaczynski’s anonymous 35,000-word manifesto that a tip from his brother David led officials to Kaczynski and his isolated cabin in Montana. The massive nationwide hunt for the Unabomber, whose seemingly random attacks with lack of traceable evidence stumped law enforcement officials for years, is an interesting case and one that the Newseum in Washington DC has hosted an exhibit on for the past few years — a display that includes Kaczynski’s actual cabin. The exhibit has also featured a VR experience that let visitors explore the cabin from the perspective of an FBI agent, decide whether to publish the manifesto and even disarm the live bomb found in Kaczynski’s cabin. Now, Variety reports, Unabomber: The Virtual Reality Experience is available for anyone to explore.

“We want to be able to reach people wherever they are,” Newseum CTO Mitch Gelman told Variety. “We have a generation that is growing up on video games. VR is an incredibly experiential form of storytelling,” And in that regard, Unabomber: The Virtual Reality Experience includes voice-over commentary from agents that led the investigation, newspaper clippings and additional videos for those who want to learn more.

Museums have been turning to VR more and more as a way to augment visitors’ experiences. London’s Tate Modern is using VR as part of an immersive Modigliani exhibit that’s open until April while the Royal Academy of Arts has hosted an exhibit on how VR and similar technologies are impacting artists and their work. And the Smithsonian has been working on a VR experience that would let people anywhere experience some of the works it has on display.

Unabomber: The Virtual Reality Experience was produced by the Newseum and Immersion VR with support from Vive Studios. It’s on sale now through Viveport for $5 and will be available on Steam in the near future. You can check out a trailer below.

Via: Variety


Facebook adds variety series hosted by NFL star Von Miller

The latest sports star to get a Facebook Watch show is Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Variety reports that Miller will get a live weekly variety series that brings together comedy, celebrity guests, teammates and Miller’s brothers. “Having my own show is a dream come true,” Miller told Variety. “I look forward to bringing the fans into my home and into my world each week. I know we are going to have some fun.”

Miller’s show joins a slew of other sports-related series on Facebook Watch. Dwyane Wade’s BackCourt Wade premiered on the platform in November while Marshawn Lynch’s No Script reality series debuted last September. Ball in the Family, which features LaVar Ball and his basketball-playing sons is wrapping up its second season on Facebook Watch. The reality shows work well alongside Facebook’s sports coverage, which includes NFL, college basketball and wrestling programming. ESPN also just signed on to develop a Facebook Watch version of its popular First Take talk show.

Miller’s show, Von Miller’s Studio 58, will run on Wednesdays at 8PM Eastern starting this week. Facebook has ordered eight episodes and you can check out a trailer below.

Via: Variety

Source: Facebook


Facebook Announces Series of Updates Aimed at Improving User Privacy

Facebook this week has detailed how it plans to give its users “more control” of their privacy on the mobile and desktop versions of the social network. One of the major new additions is described as a “privacy center” that will provide simple tools to manage privacy and combine all core privacy settings into one easy-to-find interface.

In order to explain how to use these features to its users, the company today is rolling out educational videos in its News Feed centering upon topics like “how to control what information Facebook uses to show you, how to review and delete old posts, and even what it means to delete your account.” This marks the first time that Facebook shared its privacy principles with its users, stating that the updates “reflect core principles” it has maintained on privacy over the years.

As pointed out by TechCrunch, Facebook’s planned rollout of beefed up privacy features comes ahead of a May 25 deadline for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU. The GDPR’s goal is to give citizens back control over their personal data while “simplifying” the regulatory environment for business, essentially affecting “any entities processing the personal data of EU citizens.”

Under GDPR, the new game Facebook will need to play is gaming trust: Which it to say that it will need to make users feel they trust its brand to protect their privacy and therefore make them feel happy to consent to the company processing their data (rather than asking it to delete it). So PR and carefully packaged info-messaging to users is going to be increasingly important for Facebook’s business, going forward.

While all Facebook users will gain access to the updates, beginning today users in Europe will get reminders pushed out to them to take part in the network’s existing privacy check-up feature. In terms of the new privacy center, Facebook didn’t offer any specifics as to when it will launch and if the controls offered to users will be the same in the United States as they are in Europe. Another part of Facebook’s plan is to run data protection workshops for small and medium businesses — again focused on a launch in Europe — that will center upon the GDPR.

Earlier in January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a major change coming to the News Feed, which aims to cut down on the content displayed from publishers and instead highlight more content from family and friends. The update was described as a way to have more “meaningful social interactions” on Facebook by reducing the amount of posts from businesses, brands, and media.

Tags: Facebook, privacy
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Apple’s New ‘Selfies on iPhone X’ Ad Campaign Features Brazilian Carnival and NHL All-Star Steven Stamkos

Apple last week shared a new video that showcases selfies taken with Portrait Lighting effects on the iPhone X, kickstarting the company’s new “Selfies on iPhone X” ad campaign across different forms of media.

Next up in the campaign is a video promoting the annual Carnival of Brazil, a weeklong celebration of music, dance, food, and drink, with particularly large festivals in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The ad, accompanied by a webpage, highlights selfies taken with Portrait Lighting effects on the iPhone X.

Apple shared a similar Brazilian Carnival video last year amid a reported push into more regional marketing campaigns.

The campaign extends to billboards, which will likely appear in major cities across the world over the coming weeks. NHL all-star Steven Stamkos recently announced his participation in the campaign on Twitter, and shared a photo of him standing in front of his own Portrait Lighting selfie at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

So proud to be a part of Apple’s new campaign, selfies on iPhone X. #ShotoniPhone #NHLAllStar

— Steven Stamkos (@RealStamkos91) January 27, 2018

The captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning is likely just one of several notable figures who will be featured in the campaign, which is similar to Apple’s larger “Shot on iPhone” series. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more ads, and if you spot one yourself, feel free to share it in the comments section.

Tag: Apple ads
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Ming-Chi Kuo Casts Doubt on iPhone SE 2, Expects Few Changes Should New Model Launch

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has sources within Apple’s supply chain in Asia, has issued a research note today that casts doubt on rumors about a second-generation iPhone SE launching in the second quarter of 2018.

Kuo believes Apple doesn’t have enough spare development resources to focus on launching another iPhone, with three new models already in the pipeline, including a second-generation iPhone X with a “much different” internal design, a larger 6.5-inch version dubbed iPhone X Plus, and a lower-priced 6.1-inch iPhone with Face ID but design compromises like an LCD screen.

An excerpt from the research note, obtained by MacRumors, edited slightly for clarity:

The announcement of three new iPhone models in the same quarter in the second half of 2017 was the first time Apple made such a major endeavor, and we believe the delay of iPhone X, which had the most complicated design yet, shows that Apple doesn’t have enough resources available for development. […]

With three new models in the pipeline for the second half of 2018, we believe Apple may have used up its development resources. Also, we think the firm will do all it can to avoid repeating the mistake of a shipment delay for the three new models. As such, we believe Apple is unlikely to have enough spare resources to develop a new iPhone model for launch in 2Q18.

If there really is a so-called iPhone SE 2 on Apple’s roadmap, Kuo expects it will have few outward-facing changes. He predicts the device would likely have a faster processor and a lower price, rather than iPhone X-like features like a nearly full screen design, 3D sensing for Face ID, or wireless charging.

There have been many rumors about Apple launching a new iPhone SE in 2018, with most of the sources based in Asia, including research firm TrendForce and publications like the Economic Daily News. The latest rumor suggested a new iPhone SE with wireless charging could launch in May-June.

The current iPhone SE looks much like the iPhone 5s, including its smaller four-inch display preferred by a subset of customers. The device is powered by Apple’s A9 chip, like the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and it has 2GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Touch ID.

Apple hasn’t fully refreshed the iPhone SE since it launched in March 2016, but it did double its available storage capacities to 64GB and 128GB last March. It also dropped the device’s starting price to $349 last September.

Related Roundup: iPhone SETags: KGI Securities, Ming-Chi KuoBuyer’s Guide: iPhone SE (Don’t Buy)
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