Apple May Not Have Bought Music Analytics Firm Asaii, Might Be ‘Acquihire’

music analytics firm asaii may not have been bought by apple

On Sunday, it was reported Apple had paid less than $100 million for Asaii, with the three co-founders already working for Apple on Apple Music. A second report supposedly confirmed the initial acquisition murmurs, with a shareholder acting as the source.

According to TechCrunch, the deal wasn’t a purchase of the entire startup, but what is known as an acquihire, typically where a company is bought out by another for the expertise of its employees, not its products or services.

The discovery was apparently due to Apple’s customary way of either confirming an acquisition outright or issuing standard boilerplate, advising it buys smaller technology companies regularly and doesn’t typically discuss purpose or plans for its assets and staff. In this case, Apple declined to confirm the deal to the report and did not allow the use of the standard statement, leading to the conclusion that Apple did not buy the startup’s assets.

Co-founders Sony Theakanath, Austin Chen, and Chris Zhang are all confirmed to be working for Apple since October, though it is unknown exactly what they will be working on. It is highly likely the knowledge of the trio will be put towards analyzing music, bolstering recommendations and looking at new and up-coming artists.

Two of the three had previous experience working for Apple. Theakanath was a software engineer on the company’s Special Projects Team from May 2015 to August 2016, working on Core OD and iAd, while Chen was a global operations manager for four months in 2016.

While the Asaii website is still active at the time of writing, the company announced it was shutting down on October 14 via Twitter, with no explanation as to why it was winding down operations.

It is unclear what will happen to the company’s assets, if they were not part of the Apple deal.

Launched in 2016, Asaii performed analysis on play counts and other data from Apple Music, Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Twitter, with the machine learning systems determining new and popular tracks. Each song was assigned an “Asaii” score based on real-time data, with hot new artists able to gain the attention of A&R executives.

Data was supplied to industry insiders via an analytics dashboard, complete with a newsfeed that contextualized social media reach, and a tracking module for artist management. The Asaii Recommend API was able to be used by streaming services as a data point in creating algorithmically-generated playlists for users.

 

 

Hands On With AirPlay 2 On the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini

 take a look at the airplay 2 on the libratone zipp and zipp mini

What sets the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini apart from other speakers is their versatility. They work with AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth in a variety of different scenarios. You can be at home, use them on Wi-Fi while plugged in, and also be used while on the go using Bluetooth and the built-in battery. So far, these are also the only battery-powered, portable AirPlay 2 speakers.

AirPlay 2

AirPlay 2 is Apple’s first major update to AirPlay since it replaced AirTunes. It has a much-increased buffer for improved stability, and most importantly, the ability to send audio to multiple speakers at once.

There is also decreased lag between the host and client devices in most situations.

AirPlay on the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini

We were very impressed with our initial impressions of the Zipp, and they’ve been cemented with the update to AirPlay 2.

As soon as we had the update installed, we noticed improved performance right away. There was a significant decrease in lag as we cast audio from our iPhone to the Zipp. Play/pause was also quicker than previously.

We could easily stream audio to our HomePod, Sonos Soundbar, and Libratone Zipp at the same time, with no issues.

If you go to the Home app, tap “add accessory”, then choose the “have no code” option, you should see the Zipp become available. By adding it to the Home app you can change the name, the room, and gain Siri control.

Like any other third-party AirPlay 2 speaker, there are limitations. It doesn’t get its own card in the AirPlay 2 interface. That feature is limited to Apple’s own devices such as the AirPort Express, Apple TV, and HomePod.

Updating your speaker

Updating your Zipp or Zipp Mini is quite easy. Simply launch the latest version of their accompanying iOS app, and you should see an exclamation point on the top right corner of the device’s card. When you tap the card, an alert will appear informing you of the pending update and the changes. Install the update and you can now playback your tunes via AirPlay 2.

Where to buy

Libratone also announced that the Zipp Mini would soon be available within select Apple Store nationwide in Atlantic Deep starting on October 17th.

Both the Libratone Zipp and Zipp Mini come in your choice of five colors: Cloudy Grey, Deep Lagoon, Graphite Grey, Nordic Black and Victory Red. The Zipp retails for $299 with all five color choices available at Amazon. The smaller Zipp Mini sells for $249 and is also available at Amazon.com.

 

Six 2018 iPad Pro Models Spotted In App Analytics Data

six 2018 ipad pro models were found in the app analytics data

Mobile analytics firm Appsee claims the model identifiers “iPad8,1,” “iPad8,2,” “iPad8,3,” “iPad8,4,” “iPad8,5,” and “iPad8,8” have recently started to appear on its platform. The identifiers first surfaced on Monday, with the identifiers in the latest report joined by two other labels, namely the missing two from the set: “iPad8,6” and “iPad8,7”

Appsee has yet to spot any references to “iPad8,6” or “iPad8,7” in its logs, but it is likely that the models still exist, if not being used in a way that it could be seen by third-party analytics systems.

The logs also suggest there are two different resolutions of iPad Pro display in use, and that they are the same as the existing 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models. While the logs indicate the potential resolution, it isn’t able to determine the physical dimensions of each device, which rumors suggest could have a similar screen size but with a smaller bezel, resulting in an overall reduction in size, or for the 10.5-inch model to have a bigger 11-inch screen while staying physically similar to its predecessor.

The lower four model identifiers apparently have the resolution of 1,112 by 834 points and the upper two have 1,366 by 1,024 points. As the iPad Pro use a high-resolution @2x modifier, MacRumors reports, the actual resolutions are doubled, resulting in 2,224 by 1,668 and 2,732 by 2,048 respectively.

The figures also suggest the screens will have the same 4:3 aspect ratios as the current models, despite any potential changes in size.

Rumors suggest the 2018 iPad Pro will use Face ID instead of the Home Button, borrowing the concept used in the iPhone XS. Rather than using the notch aesthetic, the tablets are likely to insert the TrueDepth camera system into the bezel.

It is also rumored the new models will be capable of supporting 4K HDR output to external displays and TVs, using an integrated USB-C port. A new Settings panel will apparently enable control over the outputted resolution, brightness, and enabling and disabling HDR. Other rumors have hinted at Apple replacing Lightning with USB-C to support higher bandwidth applications.

There is also the suggestion the Smart Connector will be replaced by a new “Magnetic Connector, repositioned to the rear and close to the base of the device. The new connector could support new accessories beyond the usual keyboard, though what these could be remain unknown.

Apple is expected to announce a new slate of iPad Pro models at a special event later this month. Check out AppleInsider’s analysis of the presumed October event for more details.

 

 

App Store Fraud Allegedly Impacting Major Mobile Payment Firms In China

apple store fraud allegedly affected major mobile payment companies in China,

The Alibaba-owned Alipay and Tencent-owned WeChat Pay have confirmed a number of their customers have been the subject of fraudulent App Store purchases. Alipay has, for the last few days, posted a warning online advising iPhone users of the thefts, and to secure their accounts where possible.

Alibaba’s payments firm claims it has contacted Apple “multiple times” over the fraud, reports the Wall Street Journal, requesting the company to find out how they are taking place. Apple advised it was investigating the issue.

Customers have recently complained they received notifications of purchases in the App Store that they did not authorize, according to reports by the state media-controlled China National Radio. Social media posts from affected customers also note the notifications arrive at unusual times of day, and for some users has led to losses worth hundreds of dollars.

The notice by Alipay advised the affected customers included those who owned iPhones and had connected their accounts to other payment systems. Customers are “exposed to the risk of financial loss,” until Apple deals with the issue, the notice warned, while also advising the losses could be minimized by lowering how much could be transferred in a transaction without requiring a password to be entered.

It is unknown exactly how the Apple IDs are being acquired by the fraudsters, nor how they are performing the App Store purchases. Alipay and WeChat Pay have to be registered to the Apple ID, potentially along with credit cards and other payment details, in order to perform the transactions.

While WeChat Pay didn’t issue a notice to users about the issue, a statement from the company described similar circumstances.

An Apple spokeswoman advised there are instructions on the Apple support website explaining how to protect the Apple ID against fraud, including how to set up two-factor authentication.

WeChat Pay and AliPay are the largest payment services in the country, with approximately 800 million and 700 million users respectively as of the summer. Combined, the two companies handled in the region of $15 trillion in mobile transactions in the country during 2017, with the services used to pay for a vast number of everyday items and bills.

 

NSA Cybersecurity Head Can’t Find Corroboration For iCloud Spy Chip Report

nsa cybersecurity chief could not find corroboration of the icloud spy chip report

Speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, NSA Senior Advisor Rob Joyce was put on the spot about the allegations the Chinese government tampered with servers produced by Supermicro, which were allegedly used by Apple, other major tech companies, and various government organizations. Joyce’s comments suggest he disbelieves the entirety of the report, through checking via his own sources.

In response to Wall Street Journal reporter Dustin Volz’s query on the allegations, Joyce advised “What I can’t find are any ties to the claims in the article,” adding “We’re befuddled.” While noting he has considerable access to intelligence, he has yet to find any corroboration on either the initial story’s allegations, nor with a second connected story pertaining to a major telecommunications provider in the U.S.

The lack of connected evidence to the events led Joyce to plea to others to bring clarity, asking “If somebody has first-degree knowledge, can hand us a board, and point to somebody in a company that was involved in this as claimed, we want to talk to them.”

Reporting on the same meeting, Politico’s Eric Geller quotes Joyce stating “I have a pretty good understanding about what we’re worried about and what we’re working on from my position. I don’t see it. There’s not there there yet. I have grave concerns about where this has taken us. I worry that we’re chasing shadows right now.”

Joyce then admits he has no confidence that there’s something to the story. “I worry about the distraction that it is causing.”

The comments are not the first to be made by members of the security community connected to a government agency. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, put out a similar plea for people with “credible intelligence” about the report to make contact, commenting “at this stage we have no reason to doubt the detailed assessments made by AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Apple.”

Both companies issued strong denials to the story shortly after its publication, with Apple characterizing it as “wrong and misinformed.” Apple has also performed a “massive, granular, and siloed investigation” into the claims, but did not discover any evidence of hardware tampering, nor any unrelated incidents that could have contributed to the report’s claims.

The Department of Homeland Security also issued a statement on Saturday, again siding with Apple and Amazon, but without delving into detail as to why it doesn’t believe the Bloomberg report.

One of the few named sources in the original report, security researcher Joe Fitzpatrick, has revealed his own doubts about the report, including dealings with one of its authors. Fitzpatrick advised he had previously spoken to the reporter about proof-of-concept devices demonstrated at Black Hat 2016, but found it strange that the ideas he mentioned were confirmed by other sources of the publication.

A number of U.S. officials contacted by one report advised they were uncertain about its accuracy, with one official changing their mind from their initial assertion the “thrust of the article” was true.

Two U.S. senators have written to Supermicro demanding answers over the reports, issuing questions for response by October 17. The questions, asked by Senators Marco Rubio and Richard Blumenthal, query when Supermicro became aware of the malicious hardware reports, if it had investigated the supply chain, and if the Chinese government ever requested access to confidential security information, among other areas.

 

 

Apple Seeds Third Beta Of iOS 12.1 to Developers

 apple releases third beta of ios 12.1 to developers

Registered developers can download the new iOS 12.1 beta from Apple’s Developer Center or over-the-air once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Developer Center.

iOS 12.1 includes several new features that Apple promised would come to the new iPhone XS and XS Max devices. The beta introduces support for the eSIM, which is a digital SIM that lets you activate a cellular plan from a carrier without the need to use a physical SIM card.

Carriers will need to implement support for eSIM, which is likely to happen after iOS 12.1 launches. In the U.S., AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile will support eSIM.

The iOS 12.1 update brings a new real-time Depth Control feature, which lets you adjust the depth of field of your Portrait Mode photos before you capture them. Right now, in iOS 12, Depth Control is only available for post-capture editing.

If you tap on the “F” icon at the top of the screen while capturing a photo you use Depth Control to adjust the amount of background blur in an image.

In addition to these iPhone XS and XS Max features, iOS 12.1 reintroduces the Group FaceTime feature that was removed from iOS 12 during the beta testing period. Group FaceTime was present in many early betas but was ultimately removed because Apple needed more time to test it.

Group FaceTime is designed to let iPhone and Mac users conduct video and audio chats with up to 32 participants at one time, with new camera effects features included.

The update adds more than 70 new emoji to iPhones and iPads, with options that include red hair, gray hair, curly hair, cold face, party face, face with hearts, mango, kangaroo, peacock, lobster, cupcake, and tons more.

As for bug fixes, iOS 12.1 addresses a charging problem that could cause iPhone and iPad models running iOS 12 to fail to charge when connected to a Lightning cable while the screen is off and it fixes a bug that caused iPhone XS and XS Max models to prefer 2.4GHz WiFi networks to 5GHz networks, resulting in perceived slower WiFi speeds. Both of these bugs have also been addressed in the iOS 12.0.1 update, released yesterday.

If any additional new features are found in the third iOS 12.1 beta, we’ll update this post with details.

Apple Releasing iOS 12.0.1 With Fixes For Wi-Fi 2.4GHz Bug, Lightning Charging Issue

apple releasing ios 12.0.1 with fix for wi-fi 2.4ghz bug and lightning charging problem

The update will be available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the update, go to Settings –> General –> Software Update. iOS 12 users should be able to download iOS 12.0.1 when it is released at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Today’s update fixes several high profile bugs that have been plaguing iOS 12 users. It resolves an issue that could cause some iPhone XS devices not to charge when connected to a Lightning cable, an issue that was discovered shortly after iOS 12 was released.

Reports suggested multiple iOS 12 devices were affected rather than just the iPhone XS, and it’s likely that if other devices are impacted, the new update solves the problem.

iOS 12.0.1 also fixes a major Wi-Fi bug that could cause some iPhone XS devices to prefer to join a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network rather than a 5GHz Wi-Fi network, resulting in perceived slower Wi-Fi connection speeds. After this update, many users who were stuck with their phones connecting to a 2.4GHz network should see much faster Wi-Fi connection speeds as the devices once again prefer a 5GHz network.

Other bug fixes in this update include a reorientation of the “123” number key on the iPad, which was moved in the iOS 12 update and swapped with the emoji/language key, a fix for a problem that could cause subtitles not to appear in some video apps, and an issue where Bluetooth could become unavailable.

Many of these bugs have also been addressed in the upcoming iOS 12.1 update that is currently being beta tested by developers and public beta testers.

Apple’s full release notes for the update are below:

iOS 12.0.1 includes bug fixes and improvements for your iPhone or iPad. This update:

– Fixes an issue where some iPhone XS devices did not immediately charge when connected to a Lightning cable

– Resolves an issue that could cause iPhone XS devices to rejoin a Wi-Fi network at 2.4GHz instead of 5GHz

– Restores the original position of the “.?123” key on the iPad keyboard

– Fixes an issue where subtitles may not appear in some video apps

– Addresses an issue where Bluetooth could become unavailable

– For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

The new iOS 12 update introduces a slew of new features like Siri Shortcuts for creating voice-controlled automations, Screen Time for monitoring your iOS device usage, Memoji on devices with a TrueDepth camera, improvements to Do Not Disturb and notifications, ARKit 2.0, privacy enhancements, and more.

UK’s GCHQ, U.S. Officials Cast Doubt On iCloud Server Spy Chip Report

uk government communications headquarters and us officials challenge report on icloud server spy chip

In the report published on Thursday, Bloomberg Businessweek alleged hardware used by a number of organizations, including Apple, Amazon, and the military, had been doctored at the point of manufacture in China. It is claimed the addition of a small chip onto each device destined for use as servers would have provided Chinese hackers unfettered access to corporate networks, allowing them to spy on and acquire sensitive internal data.

While many of the companies involved have spoken out against the report, individuals and government agencies are also commenting on the story, with the general consensus being that it is unlikely to be true.

A rare statement received by Reuters from the National Cyber Security Center, part of the UK’s GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) security agency, advises “We are aware of the media reports but at this stage have no reason to doubt the detailed assessments made by AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Apple.”

The GCHQ arm adds “The NCSC engages confidentially with security researchers and urges anybody with credible intelligence about these reports to contact us.”

The statement from GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency, is unusual as the organization typically does not tend to issue statements unless pressed. Comments from the agency do get released, but typically after heavy pressure from the media or the government, and not usually over a single report containing accusations of potential international espionage.

A number of U.S. officials contacted by the Washington Post advised they were uncertain about how accurate the report truly is. One of the officials, speaking under the condition of anonymity, previously suggested the “thrust of the article” was true, but later admitted to being uncertain about that assertion.

The comments join a chorus of statements from other organizations claiming the story is inaccurate. Shortly after its publication, Apple was among the first companies to issue a strong denial of the article.

In a statement provided to AppleInsider on Thursday, Apple insisted it “has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” that it had never contacted the FBI or agency about such an incident, and was not aware of any FBI investigation into the matter.

“We are deeply disappointed that in their dealings with us, Bloomberg’s reporters have not been open to the possibility that they or their sources might be wrong or misinformed,” the statement continued. “Our best guess is that they are confusing their story with a previously-reported 2016 incident in which we discovered an infected driver on a single Super Micro server in one of our labs. That one-time event was determined to be accidental and not a targeted attack against Apple.”

Internal sources not authorized to speak to on behalf of the company told AppleInsider the allegations were “laughable” and “really, really wrong.” Apple later advised it was “not under any kind of gag order or other confidentiality obligations” relating to the supposed investigation.

Amazon’s statement noted “there are so many inaccuracies in this article as it relates to Amazon that they’re hard to count.” After explaining its security assessment of Elemental, a startup Amazon was considering acquiring and whose servers were alleged to be bugged, Amazon called the alleged network-wide audit of motherboards in a Beijing data center as untrue, and the sale of hardware and Chinese datacenter to partner Sinnet as an attempt to get rid of its affected servers as “absurd.”