Podcast #023: iPhone ban, Elon❤️Putin, spyware + malware, Metas Vision Pro

Newsreel Podcast

In the latest Sir Apfelot Podcast, we cover Apple's share price decline caused by China's ban on iPhones for government officials. Elon Musk surprisingly prevented a drone attack in Sevastopol. Project Magrail promises revolutionary floating trains, while the Mozilla Foundation raises privacy concerns about cars.

Important security updates have been released to address threats like the Pegasus spyware and combat the Atomic Stealer malware. Apple also plans to release a cheap MacBook and has won a victory against a surveillance law in the UK. There are also exciting developments in products like Apple Vision Pro and Siri's expanded AI capabilities in iOS 18.

At this point you will also find all the show notes, sources and comments that we have put together for the individual topics below.

Our Apple podcast has finally made it to Apple Podcasts.

The content in detail

Apple stock falls after China bans government officials from using iPhones

  • Apple's shares fell for a second straight day, matching Hungary's GDP, after news that the tech giant could face a partial iPhone ban in China.
  • Apple shares fell 6,4% over the past two days, losing $190 billion in market cap.
  • China is one of Apple's largest markets, generating nearly a fifth of its revenue.
  • The latest restriction by China mirrors similar bans in the US against Chinese smartphone maker Huawei and short-video platform TikTok.
  • The bigger problem is the American company's dependence on manufacturing in a country with an opposing government.

Sources:
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/sep/07/china-iphone-ban-reports-apple-shares-stocks-fall
https://www.euronews.com/2023/09/08/china-curbs-cost-apple-200-billion-almost-overnight
https://9to5mac.com/2023/09/07/iphone-china-huawei/

Elon Musk prevents Ukrainian drone attack on Sevastopol

  • Ukraine has planned a surprise attack with sea drones on the Russian naval port in Sevastopol
  • Government asked to activate the Starlink network as far as Sevastopol
  • According to Musk's statement, he did not want Starlink to be actively involved in an act of war and escalation
  • In practice, he was afraid that Russia would respond to the attack with nuclear weapons
  • The whole story raises the question of whether such infrastructure should be in the hands of private companies

Source:
https://edition.cnn.com/2023/09/07/politics/elon-musk-biography-walter-isaacson-ukraine-starlink/index.html

Project Magrail enables floating trains on normal rails

  • Polish company Nevomo demonstrates floating trains.
  • Technology is based on that Magrail-Principle.
  • Test vehicle: 6 meters long, 2 tons, hovers from 70 km/h, max. 135 km/h.
  • Inspiration: Hyperloop principle.
  • Target: Trains up to 330 km/h on normal routes, up to 550 km/h on high-speed routes.
  • Advantages: Faster, more convenient, less wear and tear on infrastructure.
  • Nevomo develops precise vehicle positioning system.

Source:
https://www.heise.de/news/Zuege-sollen-auf-bestehenden-Schienen-schweben-9297828.html

Mozilla Foundation: Privacy concerns in modern cars

  • Quote: Cars are the worst product category we've ever reviewed when it comes to privacy.
  • Modern cars are equipped with sensors, cameras and microphones.
  • These technologies collect data about the driver and passengers.
  • Many car manufacturers share this data with third parties.
  • There are concerns about the security of this data.

Source:
https://foundation.mozilla.org/de/privacynotincluded/articles/its-official-cars-are-the-worst-product-category-we-have-ever-reviewed-for-privacy/

9to5mac and Macwelt: Updates fix vulnerability exploited by Pegasus Spyware

  • Pegasus was discovered in 2016 by Citizen Lab (University of Toronto) and Lookout
  • it is, according to Wikipedia, one of the most powerful cyber weapons ever developed
  • Customers are mainly states that officially use it against terrorism and crime, but it has also been found on the smartphones of journalists, human rights activists, lawyers and politicians
  • Pegasus was developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli company that also focuses on the development of surveillance technology (keyword: Zero Day Feat)
  • The problem was probably that Pegasus could be found on the devices, but it was not clear how it got onto the devices
  • With the current updates to macOS and iOS, Apple is closing this gap that they have finally found - after 7 years

Sources:
https://9to5mac.com/2023/09/07/apple-fixed-zero-day-exploit-used-by-pegasus-spyware-with-ios-16-6-1/
https://www.macwelt.de/article/2059613/ios-16-6-1-aktualisieren-sie-ihr-iphone-jetzt-mit-diesem-wichtigen-sicherheitsupdate.html

9to5Mac and Macworld: Mac users affected by Atomic Stealer malware through malicious Google search ads

  • The malware was first discovered in April Telegram offered and costs hackers $1.000 per month.
  • The malware was discovered by Malwarebytes (tip: download the free version and scan it once)
  • The malware steals sensitive information such as keychain, system data, crypt wallets and Mac password.
  • Hackers distribute the software via regular Google Ads.
  • Users should only download software from trusted sources and be wary of apps asking to bypass macOS GateKeeper protections.

Sources:
https://www.malwarebytes.com/blog/threat-intelligence/2023/09/atomic-macos-stealer-delivered-via-malvertising
https://9to5mac.com/2023/09/06/mac-hit-by-atomic-stealer-malware-with-search-ads/
https://www.macwelt.de/article/2058078/neue-mac-malware-atomic-stealer-verbreitet-sich-uber-google-anzeigen.html

9to5mac and Macwelt: Apple is planning a cheap MacBook to compete with Chromebooks

  • Very vague rumor, no evidence of this in the supply chain.
  • Apple considers low-cost MacBook for education sector.
  • Chromebooks dominate schools (Apple used to be widespread, especially in the US).
  • Rumors about new MacBook design.
  • No sign of the cheap MacBook in the production chain.
  • Chromebooks are often defective.
  • Until now, iPad has been favored by Apple as an educational tool.
  • MacBook Air M1 is currently the cheapest Apple notebook.
  • Unlikely to get an extremely cheap MacBook due to cannibalization with other MacBook models.

Sources:
https://9to5mac.com/2023/09/05/low-cost-macbook-chromebook/
https://www.macwelt.de/article/2055821/apple-konnte-wird-aber-wahrscheinlich-nicht-ein-gunstiges-macbook-entwickeln-um-es-mit-chromebooks-aufzunehmen.html

iPhone ticker: Apple pushes through UK surveillance law

  • “Online Safety Bill” in the UK is causing debate.
  • Law could make private chats visible to third parties.
  • Apple threatened to withdraw iMessage and FaceTime in the UK.
  • Main reason: privacy protection and end-to-end encryption.
  • UK government decides against chat controls.
  • The decision followed Apple's submission in the summer.
  • Technical implementation with strong encryption is currently not possible.

Source:
https://www.iphone-ticker.de/apple-setzt-sich-durch-uk-ueberwachungsgesetz-ohne-chatkontrollen-220734/

9to5Mac: Meta and LG are developing a competing product to Apple Vision Pro

  • Meta already had VR headsets called Meta Quest (after acquiring Oculus).
  • Meta's headsets have not been very successful so far.
    • questionable statement: “According to the market analysts at IDC, Meta continued from 2019 to 2022 17,2 million units of Meta Quest 2. (IDC → the world's leading provider of market information)
    • Sony PS5: about 42 million units / PS5 VR: 32 million units
  • Zuckerberg plans to compete with Apple Vision Pro.
  • Meta works with LG on new VR headset.
  • LG Electronics for assembly, LG Energy and LG Innotek supply batteries and components.
  • LG Display supplies Micro OLED displays.
  • Apple focuses on premium experience, meta on premium and entry-level segments.
  • New Meta LG headset expected in 2025, priced around $2,000.
  • Current Meta Quest Pro costs $999, new Meta Quest 3 planned for $499.
  • Apple Vision Pro with Micro OLED display, higher than 4K resolution per eye.
  • Vision Pro has 12 cameras, five sensors, six microphones.
  • Runs on M2 chip, new R1 chip for real-time image processing.
  • Current Meta Quest Pro with 2K LCD per eye, five cameras, Snapdragon XR2 chip.
  • Despite the higher price, Meta could bring the product closer to Vision Pro.
  • Sales of Meta's “Reality Labs

Source:
https://9to5mac.com/2023/09/04/meta-lg-new-headset-vision-pro/

Macwelt & iFun: Apple's role as a “gatekeeper” and the impact of the EU Digital Markets Act

  • EU Commission classifies Apple as a “gatekeeper”.
  • Gatekeeper criteria:
    • Strong economic position in several EU countries.
    • Strong brokerage position: connecting a large user base with many companies.
    • Consolidated market position: Fulfillment of the above criteria in the last three financial years.
  • Main Apple services affected: iOS, Safari and App Store.
  • Requirement: Third party access to Apple's platforms.
  • User rights: data access, conclusion of contracts outside the platform.
  • Software: Preinstalled applications must be removable.
  • Potential adoption: "Sideloading" for external app installs.
  • Ongoing Investigations: Status of iMessage and iPadOS.
  • Possible sanctions: fines, sale of divisions in the event of violations.
  • App installation: Ability to use independent sources.

Sources:
https://www.macwelt.de/article/2057037/eu-benennt-apple-und-seine-dienste-als-gatekeeper-was-das-bedeutet.html
https://www.ifun.de/gesetz-ueber-digitale-maerkte-apple-muss-auflagen-innerhalb-von-6-monaten-umsetzen-217702/

Macwelt: Spark +AI - Email management with OpenAI's technology

  • Spark +AI: New feature from Readdle for the Spark email program.
  • Leverages Generative AI from OpenAI for email composition and management.
  • Goal: Fast, easy and creative email creation.
  • Writing Assistant: Rewords email drafts for better communication.
  • Data protection: Email content is only shared for feature delivery with OpenAI / not for training
  • AI Integration: Leverages GPT integration from OpenAI.
  • Adjustable tone of voice: From formal to personal.
  • AI features: email summaries, error control.
  • Cost: Spark +AI as part of the Spark Premium subscription.
  • Prices: After the trial phase 8,99 euros/month or annual fees.
  • Availability: iOS, iPadOS, Apple Watch, Android, Windows.
  • Competition: Blue Mail GEM AI, another email app with generative AI.

Source:
https://www.macwelt.de/article/2054255/spark-ai-mails-chatgpt.html

Inset: Finito.ai

  • Finito is a Mac app (Windows version also available)
  • You can activate Finito system-wide using the control key
  • You can use the app to change or process texts, emails and more with the AI
  • Use cases: summarize websites, translate texts, answer emails
  • You can also define your own buttons for AI commands
  • Pricing model: free, but donations desired

Website:
https://www.finito.ai/

Macwelt: Apple offers the purchase of personalized email domains via iCloud+

  • iCloud+ allows you to add your own email domains; originally announced with iOS 15.
  • Previous requirement: Owning a personalized domain with an external host.
  • New feature: Purchase your own email domain directly from iCloud Settings.
  • Purchase process based on Cloudflare offerings; Prices in US dollars per year.
  • After purchase: Redirect to Cloudflare website for registration and payment (Apple Pay, Paypal, credit card).
  • Limits: Up to five personalized domains per iCloud account; three email aliases per domain.
  • Requirements: Minimum age 18, two-factor authentication, activated iCloud mail.
  • Email addresses via iCloud+ cannot be used for new Apple IDs.
  • Cloudflare: Large US host, already in cooperation with Apple for “Private Relay” function.

Source:
https://www.macwelt.de/article/2052717/apple-verkauft-personifizierte-e-mail-domains.html

Macwelt: Apple once again defends its decision to discontinue iCloud CSAM scanning

  • Apple announced protections against child pornography in 2021.
  • Most controversial measure: system for scanning photos in iCloud for CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material).
  • Data protection concerns: Potential abuse by state actors.
  • Apple's decision: Focus on on-device security features.
  • Heat Initiative: Child protection group pushing Apple to identify CSAM in iCloud.
  • Apple's argument: CSAM scans could violate privacy and be misused.
  • Dangers: New points of attack for data thieves and potential for mass surveillance.
  • Erik Neuenschwander (Apple): No CSAM scan without endangering privacy.
  • Apple's approach: Protect against CSAM without viewing user data.
  • Encryption debate: privacy protection versus law enforcement.

Source:
https://www.macwelt.de/article/2052580/apple-verteidigt-erneut-seine-grunde-fur-die-einstellung-des-icloud-csam-scans.html

iPhone ticker: Siri reboot in iOS 18 with enhanced AI capabilities

  • Comparing Siri to ChatGPT: Siri seems outdated compared to ChatGPT's AI capabilities.
  • Apple is working hard to catch up with large-language models like GPT-4 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 4).
  • Siri relaunched: Planned for next year, with expanded features.
  • Expanding the context: Siri could perform multi-step workflows with queries and flexible variables.
  • Example: Creating an animated GIF from the last five photos and sending it directly to a contact.
  • Codenamed “Ajax”: Apple is developing an AI framework known internally as “Apple GPT”.
  • Competitive pressure: Apple is under pressure compared to Google's Bard and OpenAI's GPT-4 model.
  • Industry consensus: Apple needs to step up when it comes to AI, but the exact timing and scope are still unclear.

Source:
https://www.iphone-ticker.de/schlau-wie-chatgpt-siri-neustart-in-ios-18-220754/

Macwelt: Apple plans additional Thunderbolt cables for iPhone 15

  • Apple is considering, next to that USB-C cable to offer a Thunderbolt cable for the iPhone 15 (Pro).
  • Leakers “Kosutami” and “Majin Bu” have shared photos of the suspected Thunderbolt cable.
  • The cable could be 70 to 80 centimeters long and support USB 4 in the second generation, with transfer rates of up to 40 GB per second (4K with 60 Hz).
  • The design of the cable is similar to Apple's Thunderbolt Pro cable released with the Mac Pro in 2019.
  • Apple already has similar cables on offer, but for 150-180 EUR
  • The new cable could be sold as an extra accessory for professionals, while the “normal” USB-C cable could be included in the packaging.

Source:
https://www.macwelt.de/article/2043916/iphone-15-apple-will-zusatzliche-thunderbolt-kabel-verkaufen.html

Macwelt: Apple's interest in Vision Pro “exceeds expectations”

  • Apple Vision Pro: data glasses planned for 2024.
  • Main functions: FaceTime, movies on virtual screens, email viewing.
  • Apple is looking to collaborate with developers for additional features.
  • Initial muted interest from the developer community.
  • Mark Gurman: Vision Pro Developer Labs not at full capacity.
  • Interview with US magazine DIGITAL TRENDS: Positive feedback on developer labs.
  • High demand for Vision Pro development environment.
  • SDK downloads exceeded Apple's expectations.
  • Uncertainty about future success of the Vision Pro software store.

Source:
https://www.ifun.de/apple-interesse-an-vision-pro-hat-erwartungen-uebertroffen-217518/

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