Apple Tells NHTSA That Companies Entering Auto Industry Should Get the Same Rights As Establishment

Apple-car-silhouetteLast week, Apple wrote a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration telling it that "new entrants" to the auto industry should get the same rights as the established companies in the industry, reports Venture Beat.

Apple points out that established car manufacturers do not have to pursue exemptions to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards when attempting to test cars on public roads due to the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. New entrants in the auto industry, like Google and others, are not granted the same right under the FAST Act.

The Cupertino company argues that the best way to maximize safety benefits for autonomous vehicles, ensure fair competition and encourage innovation is for the NHTSA to amend policy to state that seeking exemptions isn't necessary for internal development vehicles on public roads.

The other half of the letter, which is dated November 22, addresses the Federal Automated Vehicles policy and a proposed data sharing program. "Apple agrees that companies should share de-identified scenario and dynamics data from crashes and near-misses," the letter says. "Data should be sufficient to reconstruct the event, including time-series of vehicle kinematics and characteristics of the roadway and objects." Apple also points out that data sharing should not come at the expense of privacy, and that companies should invest resources to protect the "individuals' fundamental right to privacy."

In October, it was reported that Apple was abandoning its car plans "for now." After numerous layoffs and reassignments, the remaining members of the Apple Car team were said to be focusing on autonomous systems. Dozens of employees are also working on a car operating system in Canada. The letter was signed by Apple VP of Product Integrity Steve Kenner, who used to be Ford's Global Director of Automotive Safety. It's not known when Kenner joined Apple, as his LinkedIn still lists Ford as his employer.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Apple Adds Early 2011 13-Inch MacBook Pro to Obsolete Products List

early-2011-macbook-pro-13-inchEarlier this week, we reported on Apple's plans to add select 2009 to 2011 model Macs to its vintage and obsolete products list on December 31, including 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models from early 2011.

In the meantime, Apple today added the smaller 13-inch MacBook Pro from early 2011 to the list. The notebook is classified as "vintage" in California and Turkey, and "obsolete" in the rest of the United States and world.

The early 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro is no longer eligible for hardware service or new parts from Apple or Apple Authorized Service Providers, except in Turkey and California, where Apple will continue to provide repairs and documentation for up to two years, or roughly December 2018 in this case, as required by local statutes.

Meanwhile, the iMac (20-inch, Early 2009) and iMac (24-inch, Early 2009) are now considered fully obsolete worldwide. This means the pair of iMacs have lost their "vintage" status in California and Turkey, and are no longer eligible for hardware service or new parts from Apple or Apple Authorized Service Providers anywhere.

Vintage products are those that have not been manufactured by Apple for between five and seven years. Obsolete products are those that were discontinued by Apple more than seven years ago. Apple and Authorized Service Providers make no distinction between obsolete and vintage products outside of California and Turkey.

Apple Looking to Set Up Distribution Center in India to Streamline Logistics

Tim-Cook-IndiaApple is set to create a new distribution center in India to consolidate its logistics and supply chain in the country, according to The Economic Times. The center will be its first in India.

Currently, Apple products are brought to India via several different cities: Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Chandigarh. Each city has a different value-added tax (VAT) rate, which causes price discrepancies when the products are shipped directly from the airport to distributors. Further, online retailers in the country source their inventory from low-VAT territories so they can gain a price advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers.

The distribution center, which Apple's global logistics partner DB Schenker will own and operate, will be in the city of Bhiwandi, near the city of Mumbai. An unnamed executive told The Economic Times that the center will "allow Apple to stock its products adequately, will ease operations and streamline its logistics and supply chains." It will also help Apple maintain consistent pricing for its products.

Apple has been ramping up efforts to gain a larger foothold in India. In July, the Indian government officially adopted rules that would pave the way for the first Apple retail stores in the country. The company is also opening up an iOS app design and development accelerator and a campus focused on Maps development in the cities of Bengaluru and Hyderabad, respectively. The Cupertino company has also asked for financial incentives to make it easier to create an iPhone manufacturing plant in India.

Tag: India

Plex Media Player for Mac Now a Free Download for All Users

Media management service Plex has announced that its Plex Media Player app is now free to everyone. Previously only available to Pass subscribers, the Plex app for Mac is a home theater-style media browser and player for content stored in personal media libraries.

Plex Media Player (which is distinct from the Plex Media Server client app) now features a fullscreen desktop interface where it integrates online files and metadata to present users' media, including artwork and, optionally, movie subtitles. In the latest update, the Player also allows users to queue up movies and music.

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Maybe you pine for stuff like Plex Media Player’s silky smooth playback, complex subtitle rendering, and lightning fast seeking on your desktop. Maybe you have a lower-powered NAS server that doesn’t like to transcode. Or maybe you’d just like to rock out to some FLAC while you work. Until today, your only option was to find some place to stash a little baby Media Player window and muddle through the TV UI to queue up your background music of choice.

Well, no more: we’ve harnessed our incredibly powerful Web app and wrapped it up inside our lovely Plex Media Player shell to give you a full-fledged “desktop mode” experience right out of the box. With Plex Media Player running in a window, you can now use your mouse and keyboard as nature intended, and switching to the TV UI is as easy as going full-screen.
In addition to making Plex Media Player a free download, Plex also announced the long-awaited Plex for Kodi add-on. Kodi is a fully extensible, community driven software media center with wide support for playing a range of media content. Exclusively for Plex Pass members, the Plex add-on brings users' Plex-processed media libraries to the Kodi interface for the first time.

You can download Plex Media Player on this page by clicking the 'Get an app' button (third option).

Post updated for clarification.

Tag: Plex

Mozilla and Tor Warn of Critical Firefox Vulnerability, Urge Users to Update

Mozilla and Tor have published browser updates to patch a critical Firefox vulnerability used to deanonymize users (via ArsTechnica).

Privacy tool Tor is based on the open-source Firefox browser developed by Mozilla, which received a copy of the previously unknown JavaScript-based attack code yesterday. Mozilla said in a blog post that the vulnerability had been fixed in a just-released version of Firefox for mainstream users.

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The code execution flaw was reportedly already being exploited in the wild on Windows systems, but in an advisory published later on Wednesday, Tor officials warned that Mac users were vulnerable to the same hack.
"Even though there is currently, to the best of our knowledge, no similar exploit for OS X or Linux users available, the underlying bug affects those platforms as well. Thus we strongly recommend that all users apply the update to their Tor Browser immediately."
The exploit is capable of sending the user's IP and MAC address to an attacker-controlled server, and resembles "network investigative techniques" previously used by law-enforcement agencies to unmask Tor users, leading some in the developer community to speculate that the new exploit was developed by the FBI or another government agency and was somehow leaked. Mozilla security official Daniel Veditz stopped short of pointing the finger at the authorities, but underlined the perceived risks involved in attempts to sabotage online privacy.
"If this exploit was in fact developed and deployed by a government agency, the fact that it has been published and can now be used by anyone to attack Firefox users is a clear demonstration of how supposedly limited government hacking can become a threat to the broader Web."
The Firefox attack code first circulated on Tuesday on a Tor discussion list and was quickly confirmed as a zero-day exploit – the term given to vulnerabilities that are actively used in the wild before the developer has a patch in place.

The latest Tor update that fixes the vulnerability is version 6.0.7 and can be downloaded here.

Vanilla Firefox users can download the update to their browser manually from here.

Tim Cook Discusses World AIDS Day, PRODUCT(RED), and Apple's Values in New Interview

Following the announcement of Apple's annual fundraising for World AIDS Day this morning, USA Today has now published a new interview with CEO Tim Cook, discussing the lengths Apple goes to in support of projects like PRODUCT(RED) and what it means to Cook personally. The fundraising will donate $1 to (RED)'s fight against AIDS for every purchase made with Apple Pay in an Apple Store, on Apple.com, or through the Apple Store app from December 1-6.

Cook said that the company "wanted there to be something for everyone" in terms of donating, learning about the issue at hand, or simply being excited for a new Apple accessory launch. There are four new PRODUCT(RED) items, including an iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, iPhone SE Case, Pill+ Portable Speaker, and Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones. (RED) CEO Deb Dugan said that the company, combined with Apple's spotlight on the issue, has positively impacted the lives of 70 million individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Tim-Cook-wide
"We put our weight behind lots of things in the civil rights area," says Cook. "Similarly, I think it's key that people think about what they stand for and help their communities. We always say that we want to leave the world better than we found it. So, we try to thoughtfully decide how we can do that."
The topic of Donald Trump's upcoming presidency is briefly touched upon, centering around the possible negative ramifications for Apple and other more left-leaning tech companies. When asked if he's concerned whether Trump supporters would denounce Apple because of its anti-Trump viewpoints, Cook remained adamant that Apple -- and any company -- should retain a strong central value system, whether or not those values misalign with some of its customers.
"Of course corporations should have values, because people should have values," says the soft-spoken tech leader, who has been vocal on a range of civic issues, from gay rights to privacy rules. "And corporations are just a bunch of people."
Cook was also asked to address critics who claim that his stance domestically on certain issues, namely gay rights, is hypocritical given that homosexuality is a crime "in about a fifth of the 100-plus countries Apple does business in." Another point claims that the company's political leanings help generate more sales towards its younger millennial customer base.

Cook responded:
"We'll always help the most people through our products, because they empower people to do great things themselves," he says. "But this (RED) partnership allows us to touch a group of people we normally wouldn't. Sub-Saharan Africa is not a big marketplace for us. This is about trying to lift people up."

"We haven't shied away from being visible on a number of topics, and if it's something in our wheelhouse, we'll always be visible and stand up to protect as well as advance people's rights," he says.
Apple and Tim Cook have supported, and fought for, a number of movements and causes over the years, most recently holding a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, fighting for user privacy and security against the FBI, and marching in annual support of LGBT rights during the Pride Festival in San Francisco.

Cook's final note on Apple's bold stances was that he and the company don't intend to stop moving forward in the fight for acceptance, inclusiveness, and support in all of these areas and more. "Every generation has a responsibility of expanding the definition of those rights, to move forward. So we'll very much continue to do that."

Check out the full USA Today interview with Tim Cook here.

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.

Readdle Expands Popular 'Spark' Email App to the Mac [Update: Now Available]

Readdle today announced that its popular Spark email client for iOS devices is expanding to Apple's Mac lineup with the launch of Spark for Mac.

Like Spark for iOS, Spark for Mac includes a Smart Inbox feature, which intelligently organizes email into different categories (Personal, Notification, and Newsletters), to make sure important messages are always highlighted first.


Learning capabilities allow Spark to be told when an email is important, and the next time a similar message is received, it'll send a notification. Spark's Smart Notifications are designed to make sure you only get a notification when you get a message worth being alerted about.

Spark for Mac includes natural language search, so it responds to commands like "Find all my emails with PDFs," or "Find the email from Eric last Tuesday," and there are deep customization tools for personalizing Spark to meet your needs.

Other Spark features include Quick Replies, Touch Bar support, snooze capabilities, and cross-device syncing.

Spark for Mac is available from the Mac App Store starting today. Like Spark for iOS, Spark for Mac is a free app. [Direct Link]

Update: Readdle says the launch has been delayed, as Apple's approval of Spark for Mac is still pending.

Update 2: Spark for Mac is now available for download from the Mac App Store.

Tags: Readdle, Spark

Apple Campus 2 Construction Finishing Up as Glass Installed in Atrium and Landscaping Expands

With just over a month left in 2016, the latest drone video showing the progress on Apple Campus 2 has been shared online, letting fans check out the ongoing creation of Apple's newest campus. Construction on the site continues with progress being made on the glass panels for the atrium of the main building, as well as in the campus' solar panels and landscaping.

Solar panel installation is said to be 60 percent complete in Matthew Roberts' newest drone video (last month it was at 50 percent), and headway has been made on the entry-way atrium of the main spaceship building. This section of the campus has now had glass installed, covering from the floor to the ceiling of the building, and the design of the area is beginning to take shape.


As is the case with these updates, landscaping is also seeing a rapid update. The large dirt mound used to prepare areas of the site for new trees and various fauna is now "nearly gone," with greenery sprouting up all over the campus, including large trees in front of the fitness center. The inside of the spaceship building is still full of construction equipment and work being done on the water feature and landscaping in the central courtyard.

Once construction is completed -- predicted to be by the end of the year, but likely extending into 2017 -- employees will begin to move into the building in early 2017. The grounds and landscape of the campus will see continued work throughout next year, following the completion of the main structures needed for the workers.

Amazon to Crack Down on Counterfeit Goods Sold on its Marketplace

Amazon has acknowledged a worsening counterfeit problem on its site and says it has made fighting the fake products a "major goal" for next year (via The Verge).

Last month Apple filed a lawsuit against Mobile Star LLC which it accused of infringing upon its trademarks and copyrights by selling counterfeit power adapters and cables on Amazon. Apple claimed the fake products posed a risk to life, and said it had found that almost 90 percent of so-called genuine Apple products and accessories it purchased from Amazon over the last nine months were actually counterfeit.

amazon-review-mobile-star
Following the lawsuit, Amazon said it had "zero tolerance for the sale of counterfeits" on its website and said it was working closely with manufacturers and brands to aggressively pursue the wrongdoers.

Bloomberg reports that Amazon now says it plans to create a registry to prevent fakes and wants legitimate brands to register even if they don't plan on selling products on the site. Merchants then have to obtain official brand permission before they can sell goods from the company.

Amazon has reportedly been experimenting with Nike and other brands to build the registry, but the company says it will target more brands in 2017 in an attempt to get them to sell their products on Amazon's marketplace. According to the report, Amazon tried to get the NFL and MLB to sell merchandise through its online marketplace, but the negotiations stalled because of a perceived lack of control over existing fake goods.

Tag: Amazon

Google Releases 'Featured Photos' Screensaver for Mac

Google has released a free Mac screensaver that showcases popular high-quality photos shared and liked by Google+ users.

The company regularly showcases Google+ photography on idle Pixel phone screens as well as on TVs and monitors connected to its Chromecast and Google Fiber products. Called Featured Photos, the free screensaver download announced yesterday brings the same eye-catching photography to the Mac.

Google Featured Photos
From striking skylines to captivating vistas, talented photographers share beautiful, eye catching work on Google+ every day. To bring these photos to a wider audience, we’ve long showcased a selection of them on TVs and monitors around the world via Google Fiber and millions of Chromecast devices.

Now, we’re pleased to be able to make these beautiful photos by our members even more accessible by bringing them to your computers and [Android] phones.
Photos are selected based on set criteria, so there are no pictures featuring people, text, or watermarks, and all photos are landscape orientation with a minimum 1080p resolution. Each photo is attributed to its owner via a Google+ profile link in the corner of the screen. Users with multiple screen set-ups see a different photo on each screen.

You can download the screensaver here.

Tag: Google

Fantastical 2 for Mac Updated With Touch Bar Support

fantasticalPopular calendar app Fantastical 2 for Mac was today updated to version 2.3.1, adding support for the Touch Bar in the new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models.

The Touch Bar in Fantastical 2 allows users to quickly swipe through the months, days, weeks, or years on their calendar, accessing future or past information with a few gestures. There's also an option to return to today's date and a feature for switching between different calendars.

When selecting a specific event, there's an option for seeing more information about it, or changing the calendar where it's listed, and when adding a new event, the Touch Bar lets users add emoji, choose a calendar, set a reminder time, and more.

Along with Touch Bar support, today's update also includes a few new minor features, bug fixes, and performance improvements.
What's New
- Touch Bar support for the new MacBook Pro
- New Add Detected Invitees option to automatically add invitees detected in a sentence (for example, "Lunch meeting with John tomorrow at 12:30pm")
- Added option to complete reminder when clicking and holding on the Snooze button of a Reminder notification
- Fixed dragging reminders without a due date from the Reminders section into the calendar view
- Minor performance improvements in the Month view
- Fixed visual glitch when using Graphite theme on macOS Sierra
- Various fixes and improvements
Fantastical 2 can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for $39.99 (limited time price). [Direct Link]

Apple's Next R&D Center Said to Be Opening in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2017

Apple will continue to expand the reach of its research and development centers around the world with a new location in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, sometime in 2017. The news comes from Indonesian Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara, who mentioned that the project's preparation has now progressed to "the final stage" (via Tempo).

Additionally, the Minister added that Apple plans to find the location for the R&D center by the end of 2016, putting the company on the path of completing construction and hiring employees by the end of 2017. "Several options" for the focus of the Jakarta-based R&D center have been proposed, but none are yet finalized.

jakarta-indonesia
Image via Indonesia.travel
"Just wait. [The preparation of the project development] is in the final stage. The Industry Ministry and the Communication and Informatics Ministry are finalizing the plan," [Rudiantara] said. "It's more important. By late December, they will commence the execution for the location. So, in 2017, they will start building structures and recruiting employees," he added.
Rudiantara said that he knows the monetary value of Apple's investment in the Jakarta R&D center, but did not divulge the number to the press. In addition to the proposed site in Jakarta, Apple has set up similar R&D centers in China, Japan, Israel, and the UK, and is said to be planning similar facilities in Canada, India, and Vietnam to take advantage of local resources.

Tag: Indonesia