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Friday, October 31, 2014

Police Can Force You to Unlock Your Phone Using your Fingerprint

You've probably heard the phrase, "I plead the 5th", before. It references the 5th amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects citizens in a number of legal situations. The entire text is below, but the part that it's relevant right now is the part that protects citizens from needing to testify against themselves. This has protected those with charges levied against them from being forced to input their password and unlock their phone. With the iPhone 5s, Apple introduced a fingerprint sensor to the iPhone, and other Android manufacturers have followed suit. A court ruling has decided that cellphone owners can be forced to forfeit their fingerprint to unlock their devices. If you lock your smartphone with your fingerprint, you could be forced to unlock it if you're under scrutiny from the law.

Xiaomi Proves They're Masters of Copying

When you read something about a tech company copying Apple, you may think of Samsung, Google, or even Microsoft, if you have a good enough memory. You may have forgotten the plethora of Chinese knockoffs, fake devices claiming to be the real thing. One company has lived in the shadow of Apple perhaps a little more than others, and that's Xiaomi. Xiaomi has been stealing a bit of Apple's mojo over the past few years. Their keynotes look like Apple's (complete with a ceo wearing a black shirt and blue jeans as well as a "One more thing..." slide), their pproducts look like Apple's, and their latest Android skin looks very much like iOS 7. Jony Ive called the company out for their copyng practices, which they still deny. In fact, they've even fired back.

There's an old saying about not poking a sleeping bear. Xiaomi may be protected by Chinese law, and therefore not worth pursuit from Apple, but if Apple decided to sue, the company could face some serious hardships.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tim Cook Comes Out

Tim Cook has always been a secretive guy. Despite being the leader of one of the most valuable companies in the world, he has kept his private life separate from his work. He's also kept his personal matters out of the public eye. It's been rumored for years that Tim Cook was gay, however, he has never publicly come forward and announced it. That is, until today. Today, the CEO of one of the most valuable companies in the world came out as gay. How's that for positive LGBT role models?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Hacked

This has been a busy week for Apple Pay. First, Rite Aid and CVS pulled their NFC-enabled pay kiosks from stores. This was specifically to ban Apple Pay, which was found to work in the stores. Both companies pulled NFC support (which also disabled Android's Google Wallet) due to their involvement with a consortium of companies. The Merchant Customer eXchange consortium is a collection of companies that wants to create a mobile payment system, CurrentC. This system would allow them to bypass the percentage (usually 2-3%) that credit card companies take from each purchase. Perhaps more importantly, it would allow the companies to track users and their purchases, for more targeted marketing. Apple Pay doesn't give customer information to the business, and they charge a 1.5% fee.

The MCX consortium doesn't want to use Apple Pay because they want to collect customer data and they don't want the small fee. The result is they're trying to force customers to use CurrentC, a frustratingly difficult to use payment system that works without NFC. It hasn't been released to the general public yet, but it already has a nail in its coffin: the service has already been hacked.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quick Thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus

Okay, the iPhone 6 Plus is a large phone, let's get that out of the way right now. I was in an Apple Store recently, picking up a new toy (more on that later), and decided to take a look at the iPhone 6 Plus. I picked it up and was actually a little surprised. It's a big phone, but doesn't feel that big. It takes some slightly awkward maneuvering, but you can use it with one hand. I don't recommend it, as two hands are better than one when it comes to this phone, and you'll be far less likely to drop it. Still, the rounded edges and thin case make this phone easier to handle than I thought. There's more to the iPhone 6 Plus than the large screen. That large screen allows Apple to do more with their apps and iOS. Those features may make iPhone 6 owners envious.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Macs Have Finally Outsold iPods

When the iPod was first revealed in 2001, it quickly became popular. By 2004, it was outselling Apple's Mac computers. Apple began to known as the iPod company, with their infamous computers taking a back seat. You can see from the chart above, the iPod became popular incredibly quickly, but sometime around 2007, something happened that hurt iPod sales. Apple revealed the iPhone, and consumers wondered what they'd need an iPod for if they had an iPhone. Sales for Apple's media player began to tank and they've been doing so ever since.

It's not all bad news for Apple though. Macs sales have grown, and the two have finally traded places. Apple's selling more Macs than iPods now.