Judge Rules FBI Cannot View a Phone Lock Screen Without a Warrant

The FBI broke the law when it powered on a suspect’s smartphone to take a photo of his lock screen without a warrant, a U.S. District Court Judge has ruled (via Ars Technica).


In a Seattle court, Judge John Coughenour determined that gathering evidence from a lock screen constitutes a search, therefore doing so without first obtaining a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search seizure.

Joseph Sam from Washington state was arrested in May 2019 and indicted on several charges related to robbery and assault. The suspect was in possession of a Motorola smartphone. According to Sam, one of the officers present at his arrest pressed the power button to bring up the phone’s lock screen.

What is known is that on February 13, 2020, the FBI removed Mr. Sam’s phone from inventory, powered the phone on, and took a photograph of the lock screen […] The photograph shows the name “STREEZY” right underneath the time and date.

The suspect’s name revealed on the phone’s unlock screen turned out to be useful evidence. Sam’s lawyer subsequently filed a motion arguing that this evidence should not have been sought without a warrant and should therefore be suppressed.

Judge Coughenour ruled that the police were within their rights to look at the lock screen at the time of the arrest, given that certain circumstances allow for a search to take place without a warrant. However, investigators involved in later search and seizure must obtain a warrant first.

The police’s examination took place either incident to a lawful arrest or as part of the police’s efforts to inventory the personal effects found during Mr. Sam’s arrest. The FBI’s examination, by contrast, occurred long after the police had arrested Mr. Sam and inventoried his personal effects. Those examinations present significantly different legal issues […]

The FBI physically intruded on Mr. Sam’s personal effect when the FBI powered on his phone to take a picture of the phone’s lock screen.

Usually when the topic of a smartphone search comes up in court, the question has to do with forcing suspects to unlock their phone, so this is the first case where merely viewing a lock screen has been subject to judicial scrutiny.

A 2019 U.S. court ruling judged that law enforcement officials can’t force smartphone users to unlock their devices using fingerprints or other biometric features such as facial recognition, since doing so would run afoul of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Previous to the 2019 ruling, multiple cases involved law enforcement forcing suspects to unlock their iPhones and other devices using biometric authentication.

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Apple to Buy Older Shows for TV+ in Bid to Challenge Netflix

Apple Reopening 25 US Stores and 12 in Canada This Week

Apple will reopen more than 25 stores across the U.S. and 12 stores in Canada this week, reports Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The decision follows a published letter on Sunday from the company’s senior VP of retail, Deirdre O’Brien, detailing the safety measures that Apple is taking as it gradually re-opens stores across the globe. These include temperature checks conducted at the door, limited …

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Apple’s Plan to Pay $500 Million to Settle Lawsuit Over ‘Secretly Throttling’ Older iPhones Gets Preliminary Approval

Apple in March agreed to pay $500 million to settle a class action lawsuit that accused the company of “secretly throttling” older iPhone models, and now the settlement has been preliminarily approved by a judge.


According to Law360, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila in a Zoom hearing provided preliminary approval but said that he wants to extend the final approval deadlines due to the ongoing health crisis. Apple’s lawyers have been instructed to propose a new date for a settlement approval hearing that will take place sometime in December.

If the settlement is approved, it will put an end to dozens of lawsuits that were levied against Apple and ultimately consolidated into one class-action suit in May 2018. The lawsuits were filed against Apple after Apple confirmed that it introduced software to throttle the maximum performance of some older ‌iPhone‌ models with chemically aged batteries no longer capable of supporting full power to prevent these devices from shutting down unexpectedly.

Apple 2017 released iOS 10.2.1 with performance management software that had the throttling built in, but made little mention of the change in the software’s release notes. The throttling was discovered by Primate Labs founder John Poole when he noticed lower than expected benchmark scores, and there was a major public outcry after it was discovered Apple was limiting performance.

Apple apologized for its lack of communication and ultimately launched a battery repair program that dropped the price of battery replacements to $29 through the end of 2018. Because the throttling kicks in when an ‌iPhone‌ has a degraded battery, a battery replacement effectively fixes the issue.

Apple in iOS 11.3 introduced a new feature that allows users to see the current health of their batteries, and it turned off the performance management feature by default until an unexpected shutdown occurs. Though agreeing to settle the case, Apple has maintained that it did nothing wrong legally.

If approved, the settlement will provide every affected ‌iPhone‌ user in the class with $25. The amount could increase or decrease somewhat depending on legal fees and the aggregate value of the approved claims. If the payouts, attorney fees, and expenses don’t add up to at least $310 million, class members could receive up to $500 apiece until that minimum is reached.

Apple has email addresses for most class members, so attorneys for both sides believe there will be a high claims rate.

The lawsuit includes all former or current U.S. ‌iPhone‌ owners that have the ‌iPhone‌ 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, and SE, running either iOS 10.2.1 or later or iOS 11.2 or later, and who ran these versions of iOS prior to December 21, 2017.

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Apple Could Use ‘Broadcast Quality’ iPhone Cameras to Stream WWDC 2020 Sessions

“American Idol” is one of many shows to be on hiatus amid the ongoing health crisis, and last month we learned that filming is being done remotely using iPhones to finish out the current season, which is set to return to television on April 26.


According to a new TechCrunch article, the home studio rigs provided by ABC to “American Idol” hosts and contestants comprise a three-camera setup, including three iPhone 11 Pros, a tripod and a ring light, with production teams helping with camera setup and editing at a safe distance from home.

Apple also provided a statement for the article, saying its iPhones offer a novel portable solution for professionals to deliver “broadcast quality” video, despite the stay-at-home restrictions.

We know that people are relying on their favorite shows while staying at home, and we are happy to be a part of that process with the team at American Idol. iPhone offers a unique solution to deliver broadcast quality video, in the palm of your hand, while keeping production staff and on-air talent safe and in their homes.

Apple’s consumer equipment has been used before to produce TV shows and other broadcasts from home. For example, well-known talk show host Conan O’Brien shoots his show from home using an ‌iPhone‌, while all of his guests use Skype and the rest of his crew is working from home.

Apple itself is planning to use iPhones for streaming broadcasts at WWDC 2020, according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, although the extent of this reliance on iPhones is likely to be limited to developer sessions. Expect Apple’s keynote presentation and other prominent broadcasts to involve more professional studio rigs and tracking equipment.

Apple’s virtual WWDC event kicks off next month and will be hosted in the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website. The event will be free for all developers, and Apple’s keynote is likely to fall on on June 22, when WWDC begins.


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Cross-Platform Newton Mail Service to Continue Life Under New Ownership

Newton Mail is continuing to operate beyond its original closure date after the service was bought by new owners (via The Verge).


Newton was originally set to shut down on April 30, following previous owner Essential’s decision to cease all operations earlier this year. Essential originally came in possession of the mail app through its acquisition of the CloudMagic team in 2019.

The new owners are software designers Maitrik Kataria and Justin Mitchell, who concede in a Medium post that they’re not a “well-funded VC backed company” but are simply big fans of Newton Mail.

Like many of you, we were gutted to learn that Newton was shutting down, yet again. This time though, we had to do something. We scrambled to get in touch with Essential as fast as possible. After a rollercoaster of a bidding process, we were lucky enough to be chosen as the new owners of CloudMagic.

This wasn’t easy for us. We aren’t a well funded VC backed company. Nor are we a big corporation looking to acquire assets we can use. We are just an indie app development agency that loves building products.

Both Justin and I have years of experience in designing and building beautiful software products for startups and companies. We understand the ins and outs of product design and development but M&A (mergers and acquisitions) was a new rodeo for us.

Lucky for us, the circumstances around the buyout and recent economic situation, accelerated the sale and let us take over ownership of what we think is one of the best apps developed.

Existing users of Newton Mail shouldn’t see any differences in the short term and the service will continue to cost $50 a year to use, but the new owners plan to bring better communication and customer support to users, as well as fix some bugs in the software. After that, they intend to roll out new features including a new dark mode within three to six months.

Users can also expect a revamped privacy policy that will help give them better control over their data and bring the service in line with GDPR compliance. In addition, existing users are being offered three free months of service, a 20-percent discount for lapsed subscribers who want to give Newton Mail another go, and a referral program for new customers.

The new owners are promising that if their attempts at running Newton Mail fail, they’ll open-source the app and “find a way for self-hosted servers to support the product indefinitely.”

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New Apple Web Page Directs Customers to Its Online Shopping Services

Apple has launched a new web page that brings together links and information about its online services for customers shopping from home during the global health crisis.


Titled “Everything you love about our stores is online,” the new catch-all page links from the Apple.com home page and includes details about no-contact delivery options, Apple Specialist help, financing and credit options, Apple Trade In, Apple Card, order status checking, service and support.

The page also links out to “Today at Apple – At home,” a series of fun how-to videos to help users get creative during the ongoing stay-at-home measures, and there’s a series of category links for customers to explore products on Apple’s online store.

Apple has been gradually re-opening its retail stores in countries where lockdowns have eased, although some are operating on limited hours.

Apple CEO Tim Cook last week said that Apple was going to reopen stores in Austria and Australia this week, and Apple’s sole Apple Store in Vienna will be reopening on Tuesday, May 5.

We’re still waiting to hear exactly when stores in North America will reopen, but Cook also said that Apple is planning to reopen a few stores in the U.S. starting in May. Store openings will be staggered, with Apple evaluating data that includes local guidelines and recommendations before reopening.

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NBC’s Peacock Streaming Service to Be Available on Apple Devices at Launch in July

NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service, Peacock, will be available on Apple devices that include the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple TV when it launches on July 15, NBC announced today.


Peacock will be fully integrated into the ‌Apple TV‌ app, and it will be available in the Watch Now section. Peacock content will be tracked by Apple’s Up Next feature, and customers will be able to use Siri to search for Peacock shows and movies.

The new streaming service will have a free tier that offers 7,500 hours of movies, shows, and live programming like sports, news, reality, and late night shows. There will also be a Peacock Premium tier available for $4.99 per month with over 15,000 hours of content.

The $4.99 per month price point includes ads, but an ad-free experience is available for an additional $5 per month. Apple customers will be able to sign up for Peacock Free or upgrade to premium using the Peacock app on ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌, iPod Touch, and ‌Apple TV‌.

Peacock will include popular movies like “Jurassic Park,” “E.T.,” and “Shrek,” along with NBC TV shows like “Law & Order: SVU,” “Parenthood,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Two and a Half Men,” “King of Queens,” and more.

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Apple Seeds Fourth Betas of iOS and iPadOS 13.5 to Developers With Exposure Notification API, Face ID Mask Updates and More

Apple today seeded the fourth betas of upcoming iOS and iPadOS 13.5 updates to developers, one week after seeding the third betas and over a month after releasing iOS and iPadOS 13.4 with iCloud Folder Sharing, iPad trackpad support, and more.


iOS and ‌‌‌iPadOS‌‌‌ 13.5 can be downloaded from the Apple Developer center or over the air after the proper developer profile has been installed.

iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.5 introduce the exposure notification API designed by Apple and Google, which is designed to allow public health authorities to create COVID-19 contact tracing apps that are meant to slow the spread of the virus.

The API Apple has introduced is for health-related apps that will incorporate the new API, but there is a toggle in the Settings app that is designed to allow users to opt out of participating in COVID-19 exposure notifications.

Along with laying the ground work for the exposure notification API and accompanying apps, iOS 13.5 makes it easier to unlock an iPhone with a passcode when wearing a mask, as many people are wearing face coverings at the current time.

With the update, the passcode interface pops up more quickly when an ‌iPhone‌ detects that a mask is obscuring the face after a user swipes upward, so it’s quicker to get into an ‌iPhone‌ using a passcode than before.

There’s also a tweak to Group FaceTime, with Apple introducing a new toggle to disable the feature that automatically enlarges the tile of the person who is speaking. By default, Group ‌FaceTime‌ has a dynamic view with a tile for each person, and the person speaking has a larger tile while other tiles fade into the background.


An “Automatic Prominence” section in the ‌FaceTime‌ portion of the Settings app allows this to be disabled, displaying all of the people using ‌FaceTime‌ in a grid with equal-sized windows regardless of who is talking. A tile can be enlarged with a tap.

Earlier betas have introduced a new Apple Music feature that allows ‌Apple Music‌ songs to be shared on Instagram Stories. Tapping the Share button on a song in ‌Apple Music‌ creates a story with a song title, album name, and animated background, but at this time there is no way to get to ‌Apple Music‌ from the shared information.


iOS 13.5 also patches two security vulnerabilities that affect the Mail app on the ‌iPhone‌ and the ‌iPad‌. One vulnerability allowed an attacker to remotely infect an iOS device by sending emails that consume a significant amount of memory, while another allowed remote code executions.

The update may also address an issue with Personal Hotspot that prevents it from working for some people and it could also fix a VPN-related vulnerability, both of which are bugs that Apple has promised to address in upcoming iOS updates.

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AFI Movie Club Picks Now Featured in Apple TV App

The Apple TV app for the ‌Apple TV‌, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and other devices now features an AFI Film Club section highlighting movie picks and recommendations from the American Film Institute.


As noted by Variety, the AFI’s picks in the ‌Apple TV‌ app can be found in the “Browse by Collection” section, and the movie selections are updated on a daily basis. The AFI Film Club is not a subscription service and is instead just recommending content that can be purchased through iTunes or that is available through a streaming service like HBO, Hulu, or Disney+.

Today, for example, the AFI Film Club’s recommendation is “Spartacus,” which can be rented for $3.99 from iTunes or purchased for $14.99. Past movie picks include “Star Wars: A New Hope,” “La La Land,” “Roman Holiday,” “Shawshank Redemption,” “Moonlight,” “The Sound of Music,” and more.

Along with daily movie picks the AFI Film Club has a section that includes the AFI’s top 100 greatest films of all time, recommending titles like “Gone with the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Toy Story,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The Sixth Sense,” and others.

The AFI Movie Club collection can be found on the ‌Apple TV‌, ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌, Mac, some Samsung and LG Smart TVs, Roku devices, and Amazon Fire TV devices.

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Apple’s Virtual WWDC Event to Kick off on June 22

Apple’s virtual WWDC event will start on June 22, Apple announced today. It will be hosted in the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website and it will be free for all developers.

“WWDC20 will be our biggest yet, bringing together our global developer community of more than 23 million in an unprecedented way for a week in June to learn about the future of Apple platforms,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We can’t wait to meet online in June with the global developer community and share with them all of the new tools we’ve been working on to help them create even more incredible apps and services. We look forward to sharing more details about WWDC20 with everyone as we get closer to this exciting event.”

This article, “Apple’s Virtual WWDC Event to Kick off on June 22” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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