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  • Apple shares yet another AR invite for the 'Spring Loaded' event

    Just as Apple did with its previous event invites, the invite for the "Spring Loaded" event is available as an AR object on Apple's event website.

    Apple's AR event invite for the 'Spring Loaded' event
    Apple's AR event invite for the 'Spring Loaded' event

    When on the Apple event webpage, users can click on the Apple logo to enter AR view on iOS and iPadOS devices. On macOS, users can download the file and view the animation in Quick Look.

    The logo loops back and forth through the animation and can be viewed in 360-degrees in augmented reality. Apple introduced the ability for their devices to interact with USDZ files in iOS 12.

    So excited for this one! Only seven more days.

    -- Greg Joswiak (@gregjoz)

    Apple event invites are often a red herring, as the designer making the invite knows nothing about the event or what it will entail. The company is expected to announce the long-expected "AirTags," the next iPad Pros, and possibly the "Apple TV 6." The all-digital Apple event will be held April 20 at 9AM Pacific.

    Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.
  • Six of top ten smartphones sold in Jan. were Apple's, iPhone 12 sales king

    The iPhone 12 was the best-selling smartphone globally during January, with Apple snagging six of the top ten spots.

    All four members of the iPhone 12 series made the top ten
    All four members of the iPhone 12 series made the top ten

    According to Counterpoint Research, the iPhone 12 led the way, followed by iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Together, those three phones captured 71% of Apple's monthly sales.

    "There was a pent-up demand for 5G upgrades within the iOS base, which, along with strong carrier promotions, resulted in robust sales for the iPhone 12 series," the report reads. "Besides, Apple launched the new iPhone series later than the usual date, resulting in strong demand for these models spilling over into January."

    Counting just the U.S. sales, the iPhone 12 Pro Max was the top-selling model. Nearly one-third of Apple's global sales came from the Cupertino, CA company's home country.

    The Counterpoint Research top ten list
    The Counterpoint Research top ten list

    Lower-priced Apple handsets -- the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE -- also did well. They came in fourth and tenth, respectively, in the global top-ten list.

    While the iPhone 12 mini made the top-10 global list, it trailed behind phones like the Xiaomi Redmi 9, Redmi 9A, and Samsung Galaxy A21S. This list is the latest indication that the iPhone 12 mini is selling in lower volumes than the rest of the 2020 handsets.

    TF Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo, JP Morgan, and CIRP analysts have also echoed that the iPhone 12 mini has failed to attract thriving sales figures. The smaller phone is nearly identical to the top-selling iPhone 12, but its miniature size and lesser battery capacity appear to limit its interest -- even compared to the older iPhone 11.

    While the Galaxy S flagships may grab much of Samsung's marketing budget and headlines, the cheaper A-series phones mark the Korean company's only appearances in the January top 10.
  • Apple presses ahead with aim to replace paper passports and ID with iPhone

    Apple is continuing to research how to ensure the identity of someone presenting an iPhone to a passport official, or using any other digital ID document.

    Spot the difference - one of these is entirely digital, but the other two already include digital elements
    Spot the difference - one of these is entirely digital, but the other two already include digital elements

    This is coming -- your passport, drivers' licence, and probably all paper ID is going to go digital. The iPhone has already replaced everything from wallets to compact mirrors, and if it doesn't know when ID will make the move to digital, Apple is certain it's going to happen.

    The company has already applied for multiple patents on related issues, including how an official can request what ID data from an iPhone. Now a newly-revealed patent application is concentrating on authenticating that the person holding an iPhone with digital ID is the real owner.

    "User authentication framework," is about how to "securely perform a user authentication" when asked by "an issuing authority."

    "[This patent application] describes embodiments in which a person may present identification information through a mobile device instead of presenting a traditional form of identification," says Apple. "[It] begins with a discussion about storing identification information (e.g., of a passport, driver license, government-issued ID, student ID, etc.) on a mobile device... [And] then describes an authentication framework for performing a user authentication at the mobile device."

    The issues, detailed in around 13,000 words of patent application, range from the communications protocols, through secure storage, and on to making the process "tamper-resistant."

    Apple does not want to limit its patent application too specifically, but for examples of communications protocols, it does refer to both NFC and RFID. It also describes the use of a biosensor -- such as Face ID -- to authenticate the user, plus a secure enclave to hold private data.

    Detail from the patent showing a simplified process for authenticating ID
    Detail from the patent showing a simplified process for authenticating ID

    Nicely, it also discusses just how much information to give up when asked. Just as payment systems today can ask Apple's T2 chip to confirm identity and that processor will solely return a yes or no, so ID could sometimes work the same way.

    "[For instance], the mobile device may perform an authentication," says Apple, "that includes the secure element confirming whether a holder of an identification document has an attribute satisfying some criterion without providing that attribute (or at least providing some information about that attribute without providing all information about that attribute)."

    "For example, in one embodiment, a person may be attempting to purchase an item that requires the merchant to confirm whether an age of the person satisfies some threshold value," continues Apple. "[Rather] than having the user present the identification document (e.g., a driver license), the reader of the merchant may ask the secure element to confirm whether the user of the mobile device is old enough to purchase the item."

    If the owner has been positively identified by, for instance, Face ID, and if their date of birth is stored in the secure enclave, the vender just needs a thumbs up or thumbs down. "In doing so, the mobile device is able to protect a user's identification information, yet still adequately answer the merchant's inquiry."

    Most of the patent application's detail describes more complex scenarios, or where much more information is needed. At passport control, for instance, a user's full ID may be crucial -- but so is the need for that user to be certain they're talking to authorized officials.

    So the patent describes different combinations of security keys and authentication, where both user and official have their ID authenticated.

    If it sounds as if digital ID is at risk of being stolen, it is. But that's why Apple is sweating these specific details. And if it doesn't want to point out that your passport can be taken from your hands, it does want to note that we already have digital ID.

    "For example, modern passports (called e-Passports) may include an electronic chip that stores a passport holder's name, date of birth, and other forms of information," says Apple. "When a person is passing through customs, the person may present the passport to a customs officer, who places the passport on a reader to extract information stored in the passport."

    "Upon verifying the information printed on the passport against the internally stored information, the officer may confirm the identity of the holder and allow the holder passage through customs," it continues.

    Having that confirmation instead take place between the customs system and the user's iPhone, unlocked with Face ID, is immediately going to be more secure.

    This patent application is credited to three inventors, including Ahmer A. Khan, who previously worked on a related filing about securely presenting ID wirelessly.

    Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.
  • App Tracking Transparency lets users opt out of all ad targeted tracking

    Apple's new privacy mechanisms in its App Tracking Transparency feature will allow users to opt out of other types of tracking beyond the company's IDFA tag.

    Credit: Apple
    Credit: Apple

    The App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, slated to launch in iOS 14.5 in early spring, will require apps to obtain permission from users before tracking them across other websites and apps. If a user opts out of tracking, developers are required to comply.

    However, the ATT feature doesn't just apply to a user's Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) tracking tag. If a user opts out of tracking, Apple will expect developers to stop using any identifiers for ad targeting, including hashed email addresses or phone numbers, the company said Wednesday.

    Asking an app not to track using other forms of identifiers differs slightly from the IDFA implementation. Since Apple controls the IDFA, it can stop an app from seeing the identifier using technical means. For other forms of tracking, it's a policy. Apple will require developers to comply.

    If an app does use other methods beyond the IDFA for tracking purposes, that information must be displayed in an App Store privacy nutrition label. Apple also requires developers to let users know why they are tracking them.

    When the feature launches, users will also get granular control over how apps track them. They can change an app's tracking permission at any time, and can even enable or disable tracking across all apps with a single toggle.

    Apple also made it clear that the ATT policies and features apply to its own apps, too. However, users won't see a tracking prompt for Apple apps, since the company doesn't track users across other apps and websites for ad targeting purposes.

    Earlier in the week, Apple debuted a new version of its "A Day in the Life of your Data" report, which covers some of the ways that ad tracking works and its privacy features like ATT.
  • Intel uses MacBook Pro to promote its chips after attacking Apple

    In the middle of a campaign against Apple and its Macs, Intel appears to be promoting its new 11th-generation Core i7 processors using an image of a MacBook Pro.

    Credit: Intel/Getty Images
    Credit: Intel/Getty Images

    In a promoted post on Reddit, Intel touted its Intel Core i7-1185G7 chip as the "world's best processor on a thin and light laptop." The chip is part of Intel's newest 11th-generation Tiger Lake family of processors.

    The interesting part is the fact that the ad uses an image of a person using what appears to be a 15-inch MacBook Pro or 16-inch MacBook Pro. The Intel Core i7-1185G7 is not available on any current Apple portable Mac.

    Digging a bit deeper, it appears that the ad photograph is a Getty Images stock photo of a "man playing [a] computer game on laptop." Despite a clumsy attempt at erasing the Apple logo, the device in the picture is still clearly a MacBook Pro, based on the I/O configuration and Touch Bar. The model's headphones are also clearly Beats by Dre.

    Beyond the fact that customers can't buy a MacBook with an Intel's 11th-generation, Apple is also in the midst of shifting its Mac lineup away from Intel x86 processors to proprietary Apple Silicon chips.

    Apple's M1, by most accounts, outclasses pretty much any x86 chips currently on the market -- including the Intel Core i7-1185G7. In other words, the combination of the tagline and image may actually be accurate -- but it's just not in Intel's favor.

    What's even more amusing is the fact that the ad is being promoted in the midst of an Intel attack campaign on Apple's M1 chip. The chipmaker has been running ads criticizing Apple Silicon Macs and the "lifestyle company" that designs them.

    The Intel ad is likely just a marketing oversight or a case of laziness. But, instead of making its own chips look any better, the blunder is more embarrassing than anything else.