Tim Cook reveals Apple TV is coming next week, boasts 6.5 million paid Apple …

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple CEO Defends Encryption, Opposes Government Back Door.

Apple’s chief executive has given the latest sign that the iPhone maker is planning an assault on the car industry, saying there is a “massive change” in the market.LAGUNA BEACH, United States: The director of the US National Security Agency sought allies at an elite technology conference amid lingering distrust about widespread online snooping.

“It is going really well,” Mr Cook said during an on-stage chat on the opening evening of a Wall Street Journal technology forum on the Southern California coast.Since Apple’s event in September, we knew the little black box they call the Apple TV would be replaced with a slightly bigger, more powerful black box — but we didn’t know exactly when. Apple Music, the tech giant’s new streaming service, went live at the end of June as the company behind iTunes looks to dominate the fast-growing sector ©Andrew Burton (Getty/AFP/File) He credited a human curation element — actual people who fashion playlists — for creating listening experiences superior to that delivered by “zeroes and ones” of computer algorithms. “We have music experts just like the DJs when we were growing up,” Cook said, setting the service apart from entrenched rivals such as Spotify and Pandora which use software to tailor tunes to people’s tastes.

If you’re in the audience, you know that Cook will be asked about current products . . . and that he will praise them, and maybe reveal a stat or two, but won’t say anything utterly expected. Apple CEO Tim Cook asserted his opposition to back doors in data encryption meant to allow intelligence agencies to sneak through, minutes after NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers acknowledged a balance that needed to be struck between safeguarding user privacy and an ability to identify security threats. Rogers avoided being pinned down regarding whether he favoured having US tech companies install “back doors” that intelligence agents could use to get into systems or devices.

He will also be pressed to say things about categories that the company is rumored to be entering . . . and will spill no beans other than maybe allowing that a field is interesting. You see that autonomous driving becomes much more important.” His comments come after widespread reports that Apple is preparing to follow fellow tech giant Google in developing a self-driving or electric car. Nor did he take a stand supporting or opposing companies providing users with data encryption that would make online communications designed to make e-mail unreadable to snoops. Apple Service began with the launch of Beats 1, an international radio station that will feature shows by high-profile artists, and offered streaming — for the first time — of Taylor Swift’s blockbuster 1989 album. The new Apple TV, which comes in two versions — 32GB for $149 and 64GB for $199 — brings a number of improvements over the old model, including the voice-enabled Siri Remote, a new OS called tvOS, a dedicated App Store and a vastly improved search function.

It is reportedly preparing to put one on sale as early as 2019, but safety and testing regulations mean it would have to make such plans public well before then. Rogers held firm that the NSA has followed the law when it comes to seeking information that could provide clues regarding terrorist activity or other threats. “It isn’t that one side is good and one side is bad,” Rogers said of the debate between online privacy champions and US agents out to defend the nation. “We have got to meet both imperatives. To edge its way into the streaming music market, Apple has offered a three-month trial period to new subscribers, after which subscriptions cost $9.99 a month. Cook shared more interesting tidbits during the interview, including the number of Apple Music subscribers, which currently sits at 15 million, 6.5 million of which are paying subscribers. Revelations about U.S. government surveillance programs have spurred an international backlash that may cost U.S. technology companies an estimated $35 billion in lost sales and contracts by 2016, according to a June 9 report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Apple already has an onboard computer system, CarPlay, which allows cars to display calls, play music and talk to Siri, which is slowly being adopted by some manufacturers. A month after the service launched, Apple’s Eddy Cue said it had 11 million subscribers, so the upward trajectory is still there — but so is the three-month free trial Apple is offering to first timers.

He said nice things about the iPhone—”The 6s has tremendous innovation and it’s the best smartphone on the market, I will humbly say”—and called out new features such as 3D touch and live photos. On Monday, Rogers said “strong encryption is in our nation’s best interest.” Asked at the conference whether he supported impenetrable encryption, Rogers replied: “That’s not what I said, strong encryption is in our nation’s best interests.” “Security, encryption: good. Rogers noted the growing list of cyberattacks on companies and expressed certainty that hackers would at some point shift from stealing data to damaging infrastructure. He explained the benefits of Apple Music’s human curation—”The reality is, technology will not be sufficient to tell you what song should be next”—and said the new service now has 6.5 million paying customers and 8.5 million trial users. The ability to generate insights as to criminal behavior and threats to our nation’s security, also good,” he added. “It’s only a matter of time I believe until someone does something destructive,” Rogers said.

Apple has hired several high-profile car experts including Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen engineer with expertise in automated driving, and Vinay Palakkode, a graduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, a hub of automated driving research. The admiral declined to say what he thought about NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden being hailed by some as a hero, or whether he thought the man would be brought back to the US for a legal accounting of his actions. Asked about Apple retail honcho Angela Ahrendts, he said that she was “on a tear” in China, where the company has 24 stores and plans to have 40 by the middle of next year.

He said he worried that the Islamic State could begin to view cyber-attacks as a “weapons system.” Both Rogers and Cook discussed how to balance privacy and state-enforced security. Former US intelligence contractor Snowden, 32, sought and won asylum in Russia two years ago after Washington filed a warrant for his arrest for having leaked documents that revealed the vast scale of US surveillance programmes. Siri virtual assistant software built in Apple TV allowed for natural language searches for shows, such as asking for something funny or a certain actor by name.

Cook also talk a little about cars — not so much about Apple actually making one, but about the CarPlay software Apple is providing to auto makers. “We’d like people … to be able to have an iPhone experience in their car,” he said. The computer expert had left his job with a contractor for the NSA in Hawaii in May 2013 in order to leak his trove of classified information to the British newspaper The Guardian from Hong Kong.

By letting media companies keep control of their content in apps, Apple could find new money-making models while sidestepping the worry that studios might have about distribution rights. He pushed back on Baker’s contention that the streaming box wasn’t much of a disruptor, and went on an entertaining rant against TV as it’s existed for decades. (“Why does a channel even exist? The White House in July rejected a petition to pardon Snowden, saying the fugitive should return to the United States and “be judged by a jury of his peers” for leaking US government secrets.

Mr Cook declined to provide figures regarding Apple Watch sales, but said the California company shipped “a lot” in the first quarter they were released and that number had ramped each subsequent quarter. We should be smart enough to do both,” Cook told the conference, calling any compromise a “cop-out.” “Both of these things were essential parts of our Constitution. But when the discussion turned to government monitoring of the digital world—National Security Agency director Michael Rogers having preceded Cook onstage—Baker said there were basic tradeoffs between privacy and national security. And Cook didn’t buy it. “I don’t agree,” he said. “I think that’s a copout.” Cook also objected to Baker’s what-if scenario involving a back door that would have let government agents override encrypted data and foil the 9/11 plot before it was carried out: “No one should have to decide, privacy or security. Any back door is something the bad guys can exploit.” Baker was either a little taken aback, or willing to seem so for the sake of spirited banter—”I’m not arguing for a police state, I’m not arguing for the Stasi”—but Cook never backed down. “We feel a significant obligation to help our customers protect their information, and the only way we know how to do that is to encrypt.” The discussion eventually moved on to human rights, and while Cook’s musings were intriguing—”Each generation struggles with treating people with basic human respect—it’s so bizarre”—they were also elusive, since he didn’t outline what Apple can or should do to be a force for rights. (Baker had already given a few examples of the company’s activism, such as its support for same-sex marriage.) That only made his jag on the privacy of Apple’s customers and the U.S. government’s desire to snoop on electronic conversations more striking.

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