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Briefly: Skype vulnerability; Youku on iPhone; Nuance licensing

post #1 of 17
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After a security researcher publicized a vulnerability in the Mac version of Skype, the company revealed plans to release a public fix next week. A new rumor suggests that Chinese video site Youku is in talks with Apple to swap out the pre-installed YouTube app for its app on iPhones sold in China. Also, Apple is reportedly negotiating an "expansive licensing agreement" with voice recognition company Nuance.

Skype

Gordon Maddern of security research firm Pure Hacking published news of a "Skype 0day vulnerability" on his blog earlier this week, though he declined to release details of the exploit until after Skype fully resolves the issue.

Skype responded by noting that it had released a quick fix in mid-April and will issue another update early next week, as noted by CNet.

According to Maddern, the vulnerability could allow a maliciously crafted Skype message to gain control of a Mac. Maddern discovered the vulnerability about a month ago and notified Skype of the issue.

News of the Skype vulnerability came as the second security concern for Macs this week. It was revealed on Monday that a malicious software dubbed "MACDefender" attempts to automatically download itself via JavaScript. However, the threat was categorized as low because users must still agree to install the software and provide a password.

Youku

Victor Koo, the CEO of Chinese video service Youku, which held a high-profile initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange last December, has met with Apple CEO Steve Jobs to discuss the possibility of pre-installing the YouKu app for iPhones officially sold in China, TechNode reports.

If true, the move could come as another blow to Google's YouTube, which has been blocked in the country since March 2009. Google has struggled in China in recent years, culminating in a clash with the Chinese government last March after the company refused to censor search results in response to the government's alleged involvement in a security breach that attempted to steal the source code for Google's Gmail service.

The YouTube app on the iPhone has been a staple on the device since it was first released in 2007.

Nuance

TechCrunch reported late Friday that multiple sources claim Apple "has been negotiating a deal with Nuance in recent months."

Last year, rumors buzzed that Apple had purchased Nuance after Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak misspoke. Wozniak had meant to say that Apple had acquired Siri, the developer behind a voice-activated personal assistant app for the iPhone.



Wozniak may have been confused because Siri relies on Nuance's voice recognition technology to generate the transcriptions it needs. Given that Siri is rumored to play a big role in iOS 5, Apple's licensing agreements with Nuance are seen as highly critical.

According to Friday's report, Nuance CEO Paul Ricci has driven a hard bargain with Apple's Jobs. Apple reportedly looked into purchasing Nuance, but balked at the multi-billion dollar price tag. Also, an outright acquisition would be a less favorable solution, as it would nullify Nuance's existing licensing deals.

"All types of possibilities are still on the table, including an acquisition," the report noted, adding that an "expansive licensing deal" is more likely. The report also goes on to speculate that Apple may be quietly developing its own voice recognition service.
post #2 of 17
IMO, this is where Apple needs to spare no expense in getting ahold of this tech.
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post #3 of 17
This Nuance report doesn't make any sense. Why Apple cared about a billion when their cash reserved is as large as a mountain? Why did they instill the technology into the core OS without finishing the deal?
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

Why Apple cared about a billion when their cash reserved is as large as a mountain?

In other words, why is Apple behaving like a well functioning firm, when it has the money to behave arrogant and stupidly, and throw away all that money.

This is why MS is in the mess it is. They knew that the Windows/Office monopolies would keep the coffers full, which meant they made terrible decisions in nearly everything they did (e.g., losing billions on XBox, losing billions in online, falling far far behind in mobile so they could protect the Windows legacy of the mobile OS instead of moving forward with a modern OS, etc.)
post #5 of 17
Why does Apple need to license speech technology? They've been doing research for decades, is their in-house technology that limited after all this time?
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...Google has struggled in China in recent years, culminating in a class with the Chinese government last March...

Class or clash?
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post #7 of 17
Knowing it was likely going to cost them billions in future China revenue, Google still did the ethically correct thing in standing up to the Chinese Government when it found dissidents were being put in danger thru their GMail accounts. I doubt some of their stockholders were overjoyed at the prospects of losing significant current and future business in China. Most turn a blind eye to do business there. When there's that much money on the table, why rock the boat over a few trifling human-rights issues?

In this case Google showed their best side IMHO, and should be commended.
melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #8 of 17
Do you know if that Skype vulnerability affects all versions of Skype or only the newest one? After total failure with GUI of new Skype I downgraded to the old version.
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Marquiz d' Gabber von Gabberaarde

... and Windows Vista...
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... 6x slower!
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post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

In other words, why is Apple behaving like a well functioning firm, when it has the money to behave arrogant and stupidly, and throw away all that money.

This is why MS is in the mess it is. They knew that the Windows/Office monopolies would keep the coffers full, which meant they made terrible decisions in nearly everything they did (e.g., losing billions on XBox, losing billions in online, falling far far behind in mobile so they could protect the Windows legacy of the mobile OS instead of moving forward with a modern OS, etc.)

I know but the whole story sounds like sensationalized stuff. You know, like.. it will be awesome but you might not get it anyway because Apple is so skimpy.
I think Apple knows what they're doing. They don't put anything so integrated into the OS unless they're sure it's theirs.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

IMO, this is where Apple needs to spare no expense in getting ahold of this tech.

+1
I believe this is the producer Dragon-speak which, while not perfect, continues to evolve at an alarming rate.
Think about all the breakthroughs in human-computer interaction which apple has prioritized over the years: mouse, GUI, click-wheel, multitouch, few buttons, you know the story. It is part of the "DNA" of the company (sorry, I hate that term) and rightly so.

More importantly, having access to the leader in voice recognition is extremely important, especially in the mobile and hands-free age.

As a physician, I have found that dictation is extremely important and yet human transcription is quite costly, something like 13 cents per line. Putting this tech in devices, or perhaps at the server side, is important and owning the best tech is crucial.
post #11 of 17
I agree Apple needs to get this done. Maybe Woz didn't mis-speak as much as it was assumed. Maybe he was closer the mark than thought. I hope his inability to keep quiet didn't spoil anything at the time.
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Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
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Use duckduckgo.com with Safari, not Google Search
Been using Apples since 1978 and Macs since 1984
Long on AAPL so biased. Strong advocate for separation of technology and politics on AI.
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post #12 of 17
You would think that Nuance stock would have at least ticked up on the news.

http://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NASDAQ:NUAN

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post #13 of 17
It doesn't affect Skype 2.8 so we are safe
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

Class or clash?

You could say the Chinese government took Google to class on why it's NOT wise, in China, to bring politics into an business problem.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by The-Steve View Post

Why does Apple need to license speech technology? They've been doing research for decades, is their in-house technology that limited after all this time?

Speech recognition is possibly one of the most difficult things computer programers have attempted to do on consumer PCs. Nuance and IBM spent decades trying to master the process. Microsoft made an attempt that was so so. Nuance with its "Dragon Naturally Speaking" emerged as the clear winner in the battle (IBM punted and MS has no market share despite giving it away free with windows)

The problem is that everyone speaks differently. Nuance has decades of experience collecting and processing audio from millions of different types of speakers and has algorithms that produce a pretty decent result. It isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The best way to put it would be that Nuance is "the least bad." Like I said, speech recognition is just really hard.

Apple is very good at knowing what is worth doing on its own. Despite all the accusation of hubris, Apple is actually quite humble when it comes to admitting when they need help. I'm sure Apple has been working on speech recognition for decades, which is probably why they know that Nuance is a decade ahead of them. Rather than sell a POS, they have decided to license the best they can get.
Nevertheless, I'm sure Apple will make it better.
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by heffeque View Post

It doesn't affect Skype 2.8 so we are safe

Good to hear. There was no way in hell I was updating to that screen hungry, UI minger v5 software.
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

If true, the move could come as another blow to Google's YouTube, which has been blocked in the country since March 2009. Google has struggled in China in recent years, culminating in a clash with the Chinese government last March after the company refused to censor search results in response to the government's alleged involvement in a security breach that attempted to steal the source code for Google's Gmail service.

try proxy sites to unblock it hehe
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