United States Justice Department Launching Antitrust Review of Major Tech Companies

The United States Justice Department is launching a broad antitrust review into whether major technology companies are unlawfully stifling competition, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The DoJ will reportedly be examining the practices of online platforms that "dominate internet search, social media and retail services," which will involve Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
The Justice Department will examine issues including how the most dominant tech firms have grown in size and might--and expanded their reach into additional businesses. The Justice Department also is interested in how Big Tech has leveraged the powers that come with having very large networks of users, the officials said.
The antitrust review will seek "extensive input and information" from industry participants and, eventually, the tech firms themselves.

There is no defined goal for the investigation other than to determine whether there are antitrust problems that need addressing, but DoJ officials said that a "broad range of options are on the table." Other company practices that ultimately raise concern about compliance with laws also won't be ignored.

This investigation is separate from a rumored Google probe that will look at whether Google has engaged in unlawful monopolization practices.

The FTC and a House antitrust subcommittee have also been investigating anticompetitive conduct among major tech companies, and last week, executives from Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon testified before Congress.

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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Here’s How Apple’s New iPhone to iPhone Data Migration Feature Works in iOS 12.4

Apple this week released iOS 12.4, the newest version of iOS 12 available for iPhones and iPads. One of the new features in iOS 12.4 is an updated data migration option that uses device to device transfers rather than relying on iCloud.

Apple didn't provide much information on the new data migration feature, so we thought we'd check it out in our latest YouTube video.

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Setting up an iPhone using the new options uses the same Quick Start process that's been in place since iOS 11. When you get a new iPhone, you simply need to hold your existing iPhone nearby to initiate the setup process on the new device.

Quick Start confirms your Apple ID and then uses the camera to pair the two devices to one another by scanning an animation. After the pairing process completes (which includes the setup of Touch ID and Face ID), you'll see the new "Transfer from iPhone" option.

Transferring from iPhone, as the name suggests, bypasses iCloud and migrates data from one iPhone to another in a device to device capacity, which means it's done offline.

Prior to Apple's introduction of this feature, Quick Start only offered a "Download from iCloud" option which required an iCloud backup.

The new iPhone to iPhone option is a useful way to transfer data for those who only have 5GB of free Apple storage, as there's not always enough room to create an iCloud backup. It's also useful when Wi-Fi connection speeds are limited, and it will ultimately make it quicker to get a new iPhone up and running.

It works similarly to an iCloud backup or an iTunes backup, transferring over information like photos, app information, device preferences and settings, and more. App data is transferred over, but as with an iCloud backup, apps are downloaded directly from the App Store rather than from your existing iPhone.

The amount of time that it takes to transfer data from one iPhone to another will vary based on what's on the existing iPhone, but Apple provides a data transfer estimate on the main data transfer screen.

Using this method, it's faster to get photos, music, and other media from one iPhone to another because there's no longer a need to wait for that content to download from iCloud.

The new iPhone to iPhone data transfer process requires both devices to be running the release version of iOS 12.4 or later, and it won't work on devices running earlier versions of iOS 12.

iPhone to iPhone data transfers can be done over Wi-Fi, but there's also an option to transfer data using a wired connection by utilizing a USB3 Camera Adapter and a Lightning cable.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

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Tennessee State University Teams Up With Apple to Bolster Diversity in Coding

Tennessee State University last week launched the HBCU C2 Presidential Academy, a new initiative that's designed to expose students of color to coding and app development, reports The Tennessean.

The HBCU C2 Presidential Academy invited students from 14 historically black colleges and universities to learn from Apple. The program is designed to make sure that TSU and other HBCUs remain at the forefront of technology.

"The goal is to make sure HBCUs are not only up to date, but are creators and innovators of this new technology," said Robbie Melton, TSU's interim Dean of Graduates and Professional Studies and the initiative's main facilitator.

"Coding and app development is a growing part of the global workforce, and we want to help make sure people of color, especially our students, are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be competitive, and successful," said TSU President Glenda Glover.
Apple CEO Tim Cook this morning tweeted about the initiative, where students learned Swift using Apple's coding curriculum and were asked to think of applications that can better the community. Apple provided equipment, scholarships, and professional development services to TSU students as part of the effort.


Lisa Jackson, Apple's VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives, said that Apple is thrilled to be working with TSU and other HBCUs to expand coding opportunities to underrepresented groups.

"Students of all backgrounds should have the opportunity to learn to code," said Jackson. "We are proud to be part of a sustainable community network that is increasing access to teaching and learning."

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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Apple Asks U.S. for Import Tariff Exemption on Parts for New Mac Pro After Shifting Assembly to China

Apple has asked the Trump administration to exclude components for the new Mac Pro and various accessories like the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad from being subject to a 25 percent tariff on Chinese imports, according to filings with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative uncovered by Bloomberg.


The administration has promised relief if companies can show that parts or products can only be obtained in China, among other factors, according to the report. In all of its exclusion requests (search for Apple), Apple indicates that "there are no other sources for this proprietary, Apple-designed component."

The new Mac Pro will be assembled by contract manufacturer Quanta Computer in China, according to The Wall Street Journal. The current Mac Pro, released in 2013, has been assembled in Texas since its release and is Apple's only major hardware product manufactured in the United States.

Last month, an Apple spokesperson said "final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process," adding that the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in the United States and includes some U.S.-made components.

Trump's administration has threatened to impose another $300 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, which would impact nearly every Apple product, but it has so far held off. In a recent letter, Apple warned that these tariffs would reduce its economic contributions and threaten its global competitiveness.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Tag: China
Buyer's Guide: Mac Pro (Don't Buy)

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WSJ: Apple Apps Unfairly Dominate App Store Search Results

Apple's mobile apps are often first in App Store search results ahead of competitors, according to a new analysis done by The Wall Street Journal.

For basic searches like "maps," Apple's apps ranked first more than 60 percent of the time in the WSJ's testing. Apps that generate revenue like Music or Books showed up first in 95 percent of related searches.


Apple, in response to questioning from the Wall Street Journal, did its own testing and said that it had different results where its apps didn't rank first.

Apple says that it uses an algorithm that uses machine learning and past consumer preferences, leading to app rankings that often fluctuate. Apple suggested that its apps ranked first in the WSJ's testing because those apps are popular with consumers. Apple says that all apps are subjected to the same search algorithm, including its own.
"Apple customers have a very strong connection to our products and many of them use search as a way to find and open their apps," Apple said in a statement. "This customer usage is the reason Apple has strong rankings in search, and it's the same reason Uber, Microsoft and so many others often have high rankings as well."
Many of the Apple apps in the App Store are installed by default on iPhones and iPads, though they can now be deleted if desired. Having them available in the App Store lets customers who have deleted them restore them when needed.

In one example, the WSJ highlights the audiobooks search category. The top spot was held by AudioBooks.com for two years before it was unseated by the Apple Books app last September, which led to a 25 percent decline in AudioBooks.com's daily app downloads. Apple Books ranks first for audiobooks, books, and reader searches, leading the audiobooks category because of "user behavior data" and the "audiobooks" keyword, says Apple.

Similarly, Apple Maps ranks first in a search for "maps," while the TV app and the iTunes Store come up first in searches for keywords like "tv," "movies," and "videos."

The Wall Street Journal suggests that Apple's App Store dominance gives Apple an upper hand, especially as many default apps are not held to the same standards that third party apps are required to adhere to. Many Apple apps, for example, do not feature reviews or ratings, which is one of the factors that influence search results along with downloads.

There are a total of 42 factors used to determine where apps rank in search, but the factors with the most influence are downloads, ratings, relevance, and user behavior. User behavior includes the number of times that users select an app after a search and then go on to download it, according to Apple.

Apple is facing legal battles over its App Store policies. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that a lawsuit accusing Apple of anticompetitive behavior for requiring apps to be sold through the App Store could continue, and the European Commission has asked Apple for answers after Spotify accused it of anticompetitive App Store business practices related to the fee that Apple collects from app developers.

The Wall Street Journal's full report on Apple's App Store search rankings can be read over on the WSJ website.


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Apple Maps Vehicles to Begin Surveying Germany Next Week

Apple Maps vehicles will begin surveying Germany next week, through mid-September, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine.


The data collected, such as road details, signage, and landmarks, will be used to improve Apple Maps as part of Apple's efforts to revamp the app. The 360º imagery will also likely be used for "Look Around" when Apple eventually expands its new Street View-like feature beyond the United States.

Look Around is new to Apple Maps in iOS 13. Where available, the feature provides a street-level view of what's around your current location or the location you search for on the map. It's similar to Google's Street View, with one advantage being smoother panning when moving around the map.

Apple will censor faces and license plates on images that are published in Look Around, as it explains on its website:
Apple is conducting ground surveys around the world to collect data to improve Apple Maps, and in support of the Look Around feature. We will also periodically revisit some locations to gather new data in an effort to maintain a high-quality, up-to-date map. We are committed to protecting your privacy while conducting these surveys. For example, we will censor faces and license plates on images that are published in Look Around.
At launch, Look Around is limited to areas in California, Nevada, and Hawaii, but Apple plans to add more locations over time.

Apple Maps vehicles have also surveyed parts of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia, Portugal, Croatia, Japan, Andorra, and Puerto Rico since data collection began in 2015.

(Thanks, Burak!)


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How to Prevent Unsolicited AirDrops to Your Apple Device

Since its introduction with iOS 7, AirDrop has become the favored means for iPhone and iPad users to instantly share photos, videos, documents, and more to nearby Apple devices over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Using it to transmit content from apps like Photos and Safari couldn't be simpler, thanks to its top-level location in the iOS Share Sheet, accessed via the ubiquitous Share icon.

AirDrop is popular with all sorts of users, from teenagers who use it to flirt or share innocent memes in public places like concerts and festivals, to professionals who AirDrop project materials to each other across the office. Unfortunately, however, the way AirDrop currently works also leaves it wide open to abuse.

Technically, iOS doesn't allow just anyone to share a photo or document to your device unless you actively choose to accept it. The problem with AirDrop though is that it displays a preview of the proposed shared content on your device's screen, whether or not you actually want to see it.

Riders on New York City's subways often report being subjected to unsolicited nude images sent over AirDrop in this way. In fact the problem is so bad that NYC lawmakers introduced a bill last year that would make it illegal "for a person to send an unsolicited sexually explicit video or image to another person with intent to harass, annoy or alarm such other person."


But finding and prosecuting an AirDrop offender would be extremely difficult. The problem is that when someone attempts to send something to you over AirDrop, iOS identifies them by their device's name. However, the name of a device can be changed by its user at a moment's notice, which would make it almost impossible for the average user to know where the AirDropped content came from.

Protecting Yourself From AirDrop Harassment


To protect yourself from receiving unsolicited content in a public place, you could disable AirDrops to your device by turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but this limits you unnecessarily when you consider that Apple lets you control who can see your device and send you content using AirDrop.

There are two active settings for AirDrop: You can set it to accept shares from anyone, or only from people whose email address or mobile number appears in your contacts. Alternately, you can turn off the feature completely. You can use these settings to ensure that you don't become the unwitting victim of an unsolicited AirDrop share. Keep reading to learn how.

How to Restrict AirDrop in iOS


  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

  2. Scroll down and tap General.

  3. Tap AirDrop.
    airdrop
  4. Tap Contacts Only or Receiving Off.

How to Restrict AirDrop via Control Center


You can also set your AirDrop options in Control Center. Here's how:
  1. Open Control Center on your device in the following way: On an iPad with a Home button, double-tap the Home button; on iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen; and on a 2018 iPad Pro or iPhone X/XR/XS/XS Max, swipe down from the upper right of the screen.

  2. Press firmly or touch and hold the network settings card in the upper-left corner.

  3. Tap AirDrop.

  4. Tap Contacts Only or Receiving Off.

How to Restrict AirDrop in macOS


If you've been the victim of AirDrop harassment on a Mac at work (in an open plan office, for instance) here's how to restrict who can share content with you in macOS.
  1. Open a Finder window on your Mac.

  2. Select AirDrop from the Finder sidebar (if AirDrop isn't listed, use the keyboard combination Command-Shift-R to open it.

  3. Click the setting prefaced with Allow me to be discovered by: and select Contacts Only or Receiving Off from the drop-down menu.
If you're a regular user of AirDrop in macOS and regularly open it in Finder, consider adding an AirDrop shortcut to your Dock for one-click access to it from any screen.

Tag: AirDrop

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Supply Chain Expects New 16-Inch MacBook Pro, 13-Inch MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air to Launch in October

Apple plans to release an all-new 16-inch MacBook Pro in October, according to supply chain sources cited by Taiwan's Economic Daily News.


The report claims the 16-inch display will be a LCD with a 3,072×1,920 resolution, supplied by LG, matching information shared by IHS Markit analyst Jeff Lin last month. The notebook is expected to be mass produced by Foxconn and Quanta, two of Apple's largest manufacturing partners.

The supply chain sources cited also expect Apple to refresh the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air in October, but no further details were provided about those models. This also mirrors the previous report from IHS Markit.

Absent from the report is any mention of a new 15-inch MacBook Pro. Since 2016, Apple has refreshed the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro simultaneously, so the big question is whether the 16-inch model will immediately replace the 15-inch model or start off as an additional top-of-the-line configuration.

Of course, the 15-inch model could come later. Apple's last staggered MacBook Pro release was in 2015, when 13-inch models launched in March and 15-inch models followed in May. The timing is typically dictated by Intel's processor roadmap, at least until Apple switches to ARM as rumored.

Apple just updated the higher-end 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro in May, and it refreshed the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro earlier this month, so new models in the fall would certainly be soon. Apple has refreshed its entire MacBook Pro lineup twice in a year only once before in the Retina era, in 2013.

As for the MacBook Air, it was also refreshed earlier this month, but the only hardware changes were the addition of a True Tone display and an updated keyboard material for improved reliability, so a processor bump is certainly a possibility in October, one year after the notebook was significantly redesigned.

Early this month, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said a new MacBook Air with a scissor keyboard would launch in the second half of 2019, but it is unclear if it is still coming. He also called for a new MacBook Pro with a scissor keyboard in 2020, completing its transition away from its troubled butterfly keyboard.

Likewise, 16-inch MacBook Pro rumors began with Kuo. Back in February, he said the notebook would launch at some point in 2019 with an "all-new design." He has not shared any further details since, but a recent supply chain report said mass production would begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

When reading into supply chain rumors, it is often better to look at the "what" rather than the "when." While suppliers may know about new products based on components and schematics, timing is harder to predict. In this case, October is likely just a prediction given Apple often hosts a Mac event that month.

The key takeaway is that 16-inch MacBook Pro rumors are now surfacing frequently, so there is a good chance the notebook is real. Whether it launches in the fall, next year, or later remains to be seen.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro
Tag: udn.com

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2019 iPhones Said to Feature Revamped Taptic Engine and Front-Facing Slo-Mo Video Recording

Apple is widely expected to unveil a trio of new iPhones in September, and 9to5Mac has revealed a few new features we can expect.



First, the report claims all three models will feature a revamped Taptic Engine codenamed “leap haptics,” but it is unknown what will be different. 2019 iPhones are expected to ship without 3D Touch, with Apple moving to long-press-based context menus in iOS 13, so there could be related hardware changes.

In addition, the report says the front-facing camera on 2019 iPhones will gain support for slo-mo video recording at 120 frames per second.

Beyond that, the report corroborates some previous rumors. For example, the rumored wide-angle lens on higher-end 2019 iPhones is expected to enable users to automatically repair a photo or a video to fit in a subject that may have accidentally been cut off from the initial shot, as Bloomberg previously reported.

Earlier this year, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said 2019 iPhones will also feature larger batteries to accommodate a two-way charging feature that would allow accessories like AirPods or an Apple Watch to charge on the back of the iPhone.

Apple’s annual iPhone event is likely just over six weeks away.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

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Twelve South Launches ‘StayGo’ USB-C Hub With Eight Ports

Twelve South today launched a new product called the "StayGo," which is a portable hub that connects to USB-C MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

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According to the company, the hub restores all eight legacy ports and connections to modern Mac notebooks. This includes: three USB-A ports (USB 3.0), one 4K HDMI port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB-C ports (one for power input and one for connecting to the computer), and independent SD and Micro-SD card ports.


The StayGo comes with a 1-meter cable that is long enough to hide the accessory and its connected cables out of sight when you're working at home. The company is pitching the new device as a combination home and travel companion, which means that it also includes a 6-inch travel cord (seen below on the right) that stores inside the hub.


StayGo is available for $99.99 on TwelveSouth.com and at Amazon.


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