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U.S. Lawmakers Call Apple's Move to Remove HKMap Live App 'Deeply Concerning'

U.S lawmakers on Friday sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing concern over Apple's decision to remove the HKMap Live app from the App Store after complaints from the Chinese Government.

The letter [PDF] calls Apple's removal of the HKMap Live app "disappointing" and points out a prior quote from ‌Tim Cook‌ that reads "At Apple, we are not afraid to say that our values drive our curation decisions."


The HKMap Live app, which was used by protestors in Hong Kong to crowdsource information about street closures and police presence, was pulled from the App Store in early October.

Apple later reversed course and approved the app, allowing it back into the ‌App Store‌, but after China accused Apple of "protecting rioters," Apple removed the app once again and it has remained unavailable.

According to U.S lawmakers, the HKMap Live app lets peaceful demonstrators to share locations to keep out of harm's way. Apple, says the letter, has also censored "at least 2200 apps in China," including VPN apps and apps made by and for "oppressed ethnic minorities."

The letter goes on to accuse Apple of complicity in China's efforts to block change, and questions whether Apple is willing to bow to Chinese demands to avoid losing access to Chinese consumers.
You have said publicly that you want to work with China's leaders to effect change rather than sit on the sidelines and yell at them. We, too, believe that diplomacy and trade can be democratizing forces. But when a repressive government refuses to evolve, or, indeed, when it double down, cooperation can become complicity.

The Chinese government is growing more aggressive in its attempts to dictate terms to U.S. corporations, as last week's headlines involving Apple, the National Basketball Association, and Activision Blizzard make clear. Cases like these raise real concern about whether Apple and other large U.S corporate entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to more than a billon Chinese consumers.
When the app was pulled for the final time, Apple CEO ‌Tim Cook‌ told Apple employees that based on "credible information" from Hong Kong police, the app was being used to target individual officers for violence.
It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our ‌‌App Store‌‌ guidelines barring personal harm.
The letter from the lawmakers ends by urging Apple to reverse course and re-allow the HKMaps on the ‌App Store‌.
In promoting values, as in most things, actions matter far more than words. Apple's decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKMaps is deeply concerning. We urge you in the strongest terms to reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.
The letter was written by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Sen. Maro Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., and Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J. A similar letter was also sent to Blizzard following Blizzard's decision to ban Ng Wai Chung, a Hearthstone player who voiced support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

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.

Tag: China
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Quanta Reportedly Supplying Apple With 'Autonomous Driving Solutions'

While the status of Apple's electric vehicle plans are unclear at this point, hit-or-miss DigiTimes reports that Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer is currently supplying Apple with unspecified "autonomous driving solutions."

Tesla Autopilot illustration

An excerpt from the paywalled report, emphasis ours:
With the test of its autonomous vehicle, Quanta is now able to prove its ability in designing an autonomous driving platform, which is expected to assist the company to obtain more partnerships, said the sources, adding that Quanta is currently one of the suppliers of Google's and Apple's autonomous driving solutions.
Quanta recently confirmed that it has developed and tested its first autonomous vehicle on closed tracks in the United States, according to the report, allowing it to "prove its ability in designing an autonomous driving platform." Quanta did not reveal details of the vehicle or the tests.

While noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that a so-called "Apple Car" could launch by 2025, in line with various reports claiming that Apple has been developing an electric vehicle, other reports have suggested that Apple has been focused solely on underlying autonomous technologies and systems.

Quanta is best known as the primary assembler of the Apple Watch since 2015, but a separate DigiTimes report claimed that the company may stop assembling the Apple Watch in 2020 due to "profit concerns."

Related Roundup: Apple Car
Tag: Quanta
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16-Inch MacBook Pro Possibly Referenced in macOS Catalina 10.15.1 Beta

Icons possibly depicting the widely rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro have been uncovered by French blog MacGeneration in the first two betas of macOS Catalina version 10.15.1, which has been in testing since last week.

The icon looks similar to the 15-inch MacBook Pro asset that is included in previous versions of macOS, but with slightly thinner bezels. The notebook is depicted in both Silver and Space Gray, with "16" in both filenames presumably referring to the larger 16-inch display expected for the rumored machine.



MacRumors can confirm the files exist in the second beta of macOS Catalina 10.15.1:


The icons also have a corresponding MacBookPro16,1 model identifier that Apple has never used. The latest 15-inch MacBook Pro has a MacBookPro15,1 identifier, according to a support document on Apple's website.

Earlier this year, noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple is readying a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an all-new design, including the return of a more reliable scissor mechanism keyboard, for release by the end of 2019. However, it is unclear if the notebook is still planned for this year or has been pushed back to 2020.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is rumored to feature narrower bezels, as the icons above suggest, perhaps allowing the larger display to fit in a notebook with a similar physical size as the current 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the 15-inch MacBook Pro icon (left) with the icon uncovered today (right):

Image: MacGeneration

IHS Markit analyst Jeff Lin believes the 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ will feature a 3,072×1,920 resolution and be powered by Intel's 9th-generation Coffee Lake Refresh processors, suggesting the notebook will be configurable with up to an 8-core Core i9 processor in line with the latest 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Caution)
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Apple CEO Tim Cook Urges U.S. Senate to Pass the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act

Apple CEO Tim Cook this week tweeted in support of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, urging the U.S. Senate to move quickly to pass the bipartisan bill, which would eliminate per-country limits on employment-based green cards and increase per-country limits for family-sponsored green cards.


"Immigrants make this country stronger and our economy more dynamic," said Cook. "As a first step toward needed comprehensive reform, I urge the Senate to move quickly to pass the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. The contributions of these workers are critical to America's future."

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the High-Skilled Immigrants Act in July, but the Senate has so far blocked the bill.

Apple and Cook frequently back pro-immigration legislation. Earlier this month, for example, Cook lent his name to Apple's amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy that protects "Dreamers" from deportation.


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 TV+ Comedy Series 'Dickinson' Starring Hailee Steinfeld Premieres in Brooklyn

Apple TV+ comedy series "Dickinson" made its global premiere on Thursday evening at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn.


Created, written, and executive produced by Alena Smith, the 19th-century coming-of-age story explores the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of rebellious young poet Emily Dickinson. The series stars Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski.

Apple says the complete 10-episode first season of "Dickinson" will be available to stream on Apple TV+ starting November 1, the day the service launches, in over 100 countries and regions around the world.




In other Apple TV+ news, Variety reports that screenwriter and producer Monica Beletsky has reached a multi-year deal with Apple to develop and produce television series exclusively for Apple's streaming video service. Her previous credits include "Fargo," "Friday Night Lights," and "Parenthood."

Apple TV+ will be available in the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, Roku, select smart TVs, and other devices, including online at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial.

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Google Pixel 4's Face Unlock Feature Works With Eyes Closed, Sparking Security Concerns

Google has ignited security concerns over the facial authentication system in its new Pixel 4 smartphone by admitting that it will unlock the device even when the user's eyes are shut.


Google unveiled the Pixel 4 this week to mostly positive reviews, many of which praised the phone for its super-fast new face unlock system, which replaces the fingerprint sensor and works much the same as Apple's Face ID on iPhones, except for one key security feature.

The BBC has discovered that the Pixel 4 can be unlocked even with the user's face even if they're sleeping (or pretending to be asleep). That contrasts with Apple's Face ID system, which engages by default an "Attention Aware" feature that requires the user's eyes to be open for the iPhone to be unlocked. Attention Aware can be disabled for convenience, but the Pixel 4 lacks an equivalent security feature entirely.


To its credit though, Google isn't hiding this fact. A Google support page reads: "Your phone can also be unlocked by someone else if it's held up to your face, even if your eyes are closed. Keep your phone in a safe place, like your front pocket or handbag."

To "prepare for unsafe situations," Google recommends holding the power button for a couple of seconds and tapping Lockdown, which turns off notifications and face recognition unlocking.

In early leaks of the Pixel 4, screenshots revealed a "require eyes to be open" setting for face unlock, so it looks as if Google tried to implement a similar feature to Apple's Attention Aware, but couldn't get it working in time for the device's launch.

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Speaking before the launch, Pixel product manager Sherry Lin said: "There are actually only two face [authorisation] solutions that meet the bar for being super-secure. So, you know, for payments, that level - it's ours and Apple's."

Cyber-security experts disagree.

"If someone can unlock your phone while you're asleep, it's a big security problem," security blogger Graham Cluley told the BBC. "Someone unauthorized - a child or partner? - could unlock the phone without your permission by putting it in front of your face while you're asleep."

In a statement given to the BBC, Google said it would "continue to improve Face Unlock over time."

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Report: 'AirPods Pro' to Launch End of October with New Design, New Noise-Canceling Feature and $260 Price Tag

Apple's rumored next-generation noise-canceling AirPods will launch at the end of this month with a new "Pro" moniker and a price tag of around $260, claims a new Chinese-language report this morning.


According to China Economic Daily, Apple's third-generation ‌AirPods‌ will adopt a new in-ear design to support the new noise-canceling feature and enhance the listening experience. The paper claims the "Pro" suffix, which Apple recently adopted for its most expensive iPhone 11 models, will help to differentiate the new wireless earbuds from Apple's existing ‌AirPods‌ and underscores the marketing rationale justifying the higher $260 price tag.

According to a separate report on Friday from the same Chinese-language financial media outlet, the ‌AirPods‌ Pro will also feature a new metal design that increases heat dissipation. Apple ‌AirPods‌ supplier Inventec is said to be cooperating with Chinese manufacturer Lixun to undertake the new orders.

In April, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said two new ‌AirPods‌ models would likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with Luxshare, Goertek, and Amkor serving as primary suppliers.

Kuo also claimed one of the new ‌AirPods‌ models will feature an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation ‌AirPods‌, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update with the same pricing, although it's unclear what any new features would be.

Previously, the ‌AirPods‌ expected to launch later this year were thought to be the more iterative pair that Kuo refers to. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said he expects the higher-priced AirPods with water resistance and noise cancelation to launch as early as 2020. However, today's report suggests they could come sooner.

According to industry sources previously cited by DigiTimes, Apple's suppliers are gearing up to assemble the next-generation ‌AirPods‌ as early as October, suggesting an updated version of the earphones could arrive in time for the holiday shopping season.

In the beta version of iOS 13.2 there's an icon showing redesigned AirPods that appear to have rubber ear tips that would likely be needed as part of a noise cancelation feature. The image is contained in the Accessibility Settings folder, suggesting the new ‌AirPods‌ will contain a new accessibility feature such as being able to use them as hearing aids, or it could be related to existing Live Listen capabilities.

No specific date has been given for when the new ‌AirPods‌ could debut, but Apple has a number of rumored pending announcements that could point toward an October media event.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)
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Hands-On With Apple's New Beats Solo Pro Headphones

On Tuesday, Apple's Beats brand introduced the new Beats Solo Pro headphones, the company's first on-ear headphones with active noise cancellation. The new $300 headphones don't launch until October 30, but we've already had a chance to test them out so check out our video below for our early impressions.

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Starting with the unboxing experience, you'll find that the Beats Solo Pro headphones come with a new soft case covered in a nice felt-like material, as well as a few accessories such as a Lightning to USB-A cable for recharging the headphones. While USB-C rather than Lightning might have been a bit more universal, at least you can charge your headphones with the same cable you use for your iPhone.

The Solo Pro headphones come in six colors including Black, Gray, and Ivory, and then three colors from the "More Matte Collection" being promoted by Pharrell Williams: Light Blue, Dark Blue, and Red. We have the Dark Blue ones on hand, and they are made of a nice matte plastic with an inside metal adjustment band for durability and a premium feel.


Apple's new Beats Solo Pro automatically turn on and off when you unfold or fold them, so there's no power button on the headphones. Pairing via Bluetooth is a simple process, and thanks to the Apple H1 chip inside they can automatically pair with and switch between all devices tied to your iCloud account. The H1 also provides hands-free "Hey Siri" support.

While there's no power button, there are still a few controls located on the Solo Pro headphones, including playback controls on the right ear cup. Tapping above or below the Beats logo on the ear cup adjusts the volume, while tapping on the logo itself will play/pause or skip tracks.

On the bottom of the left ear cup is a button for toggling through three listening modes: Apple's proprietary "Pure ANC" noise cancellation mode that debuted on the Beats Studio3 headphones, a new Transparency mode that activates external microphones to draw in ambient sound, and an extended battery life mode where ANC and Transparency are turned off.


We really liked the new Transparency mode, as it will come in handy in lots of everyday situations where you need to hear a quick conversation or airplane announcement, for example, and don't want to take off your headphones.

Sound quality on the new Solo Pro headphones is solid, and it's about what you'd expect from a set of Beats cans. They sound a bit better than the Solo3 headphones and are right up there with the Studio lineup, although not quite as immersive due to the on-ear rather than over-ear style. The audio comes through warmly and with above-average low-end, which is typical for Beats headphones.


Battery life on the Solo Pro headphones is pegged at 22 hours with Pure ANC and Transparency turned on, and extends to 40 hours with those features turned off. A fast fuel charging feature will give you about three hours of listening time with a 10-minute charge. We haven't had time to thoroughly test these battery life specs yet, but they've traditionally been pretty accurate on other models.

So what do you think about the new Solo Pro headphones? Are you thinking about picking some up when they launch on October 30, or are there options you think you like better? Let us know in the comments.

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Apple Seeds Second Beta of Upcoming macOS Catalina 10.15.1 Update to Developers

Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming macOS Catalina 10.15.1 update to developers, a little under a week after seeding the first beta and a week and a half after releasing macOS Catalina to the public.

The new ‌macOS Catalina‌ beta can be downloaded using the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after installing the proper software from the Developer Center.


The first update to ‌macOS Catalina‌ is minor in scale and appears to focus on performance improvements and fixes for bugs that weren't able to be addressed in the first version of Catalina. An interim supplemental update was released just two days ago with some other bug fixes that needed to be addressed before 10.15.1 was ready.

Apple's release notes for the first beta said that the update introduces support for the AMD Navi RDNA eGPU architecture and brings some changes to Photos.

You can now filter by Favorites, Edited, ‌‌Photos‌‌, Videos, or Keywords in the All ‌‌Photos‌‌ view, and you can choose View > Metadata > Titles to enable titles and filenames in the All ‌‌Photos‌‌ View.

‌macOS Catalina‌ is a major update that eliminates iTunes in favor of new Music, Podcasts, and TV apps, nixes support for 32-bit apps, adds a new Find My app, brings a new ‌Photos‌ interface, and includes multiple privacy enhancements and other app refinements.

For full details on what's new in ‌macOS Catalina‌, make sure to check out our macOS Catalina roundup.

Related Roundup: macOS Catalina
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Samsung Admits Major Security Flaw in Galaxy S10 Under-Screen Fingerprint Sensor

A major flaw in Samsung's Galaxy S10 smartphone has been discovered that basically means any fingerprint can unlock the device with the help of a cheap screen protector.


According to the BBC, a British woman discovered the authentication flaw after she applied a cheap gel screen protector bought off eBay to her Galaxy S10.

She soon discovered that she was able to authenticate as the owner by pressing her left thumbprint against the phone's onscreen fingerprint sensor – the problem being that she hadn't registered her thumb with the device's biometric authenticaton system.

Her suspicions were confirmed when her husband was also able to unlock the phone by pressing either one of his thumbs on the screen's built-in sensor. The screen protector was then applied to another relative's Galaxy S10 and the same thing occurred.

Responding to the incident, Samsung said it was "aware of the case of S10's malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch."

Previous reports have suggested that certain screen protectors are "incompatible" with Samsung's fingerprint sensor because they leave a small air gap that can interfere with the scanning. The sensor relies on ultrasound to detect the microscopic ridges that make every fingerprint unique.

The Galaxy S10 is the latest in Samsung's flagship S series, which is usually regarded as the iPhone's annual rival. The Korean company launched the phone in March and referred to its under-screen fingerprint authentication system as "revolutionary."

(Thanks, Chris!)

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iOS 13 Now Installed on 55% of iPhones Introduced in Last Four Years

Apple has posted the first stats for iOS 13 adoption since its launch on September 19th for iPhone.


Apple shared the statistics on the App Store Developers page which was updated today. Apple reports that ‌iOS 13‌ is installed on 55% of all iPhones introduced in the past four years, and 50% of all iPhone devices, as measured by App Store activity. The pace puts ‌iOS 13‌ approximately on par with iOS 12 adoption last year which hit 53% of active devices in a slightly shorter timeframe and a different device breakdown.

This year, Apple has broken down the stats between both ‌iOS 13‌ and iPadOS which were launched at different times this year. According to Apple, 41% of iPads from the past four years have upgraded to ‌iPadOS‌, while 33% of all active iPads are on ‌iPadOS‌.

Meanwhile, here on MacRumors, our analytics show an 84% ‌iOS 13‌ adoption by our visitors on the same day that Apple measured -- October 15th.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
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Apple Seeds Third Betas of iOS 13.2 and iPadOS 13.2 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Apple today released the third betas of upcoming iOS and iPadOS 13.2 updates to developers, just under a week after seeding the second betas and three weeks after the release of iOS 13.1.

iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.2 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper developer profiles have been installed.


iOS 13.2 introduces Deep Fusion for the cameras in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models. Deep Fusion is a new image processing system that uses the A13 Bionic and the Neural Engine. Deep Fusion takes advantage of machine learning techniques to do pixel-by-pixel processing of photos, optimizing for texture, details, and noise in each part of the image.

The feature is aimed at improving indoor photos and photos taken in medium lighting, and it's a feature that will automatically activate based on the lens being used and the light level in the room.

In the second beta, Apple added support for dozens of new emoji characters on iOS and ‌iPadOS‌. Orangutan, sloth, otter, skunk, and flamingo are the new animals included in the update, while new food items include garlic, onion, waffle, falafel, butter, oyster, maté, and ice cube.

Image via Emojipedia

New faces, gestures, and poses include yawning face, pinching hand, person kneeling, person standing, and new people holding hands options that are both gender and skin tone inclusive, plus accessibility-related emoji like deaf person, person in wheelchair, guide dog, and more. There are also tons of other emoji characters coming, outlined in our iOS 13.2 emoji article.

The update brings a promised privacy option that allows users to opt out of sharing their Siri and dictation audio recording with Apple, and it adds an option to delete ‌Siri‌ and dictation history. These settings provide users with more control over how their ‌Siri‌ recordings are used.


Apple has reintroduced the Announce Messages with ‌Siri‌ feature, which lets ‌Siri‌ read incoming messages without having to unlock the iPhone. The feature works with the second-generation AirPods and the Beats Pro.


The betas include new privacy settings for Apple's upcoming Research app, a new Transfer to HomePod toggle in the Settings app to turn on ‌HomePod‌ handoff, an updated volume bar in Control Center that displays ‌AirPods‌ and Beats icons, and an option to display multi-function HomeKit products as multiple tiles or a single tile.

Also included is an option to delete apps right from the Home screen, and on the ‌iPhone 11‌ and 11 Pro, an option to change video recording settings right from the Camera app.


Both betas of iOS 13.2 have also included hints of Apple's third-generation ‌AirPods‌, expected in 2020. The ‌AirPods‌ have a fresh look with a body that resembles the current ‌AirPods‌, but with rubber tips, likely for the rumored noise cancelation feature.

Additional details on what's new in iOS 13.2 can be found in our iOS 13.2 tidbits articles for beta one and beta two.

Update 1:03 p.m.: Apple has also seeded the new iOS and ‌‌‌iPadOS‌‌‌ 13.2 betas to its public beta testing group.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
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