Wyze smart camera data breach: How it affects you

Wyze Labs, a maker of smart cameras and other smart home devices, has confirmed that data belonging to millions of customers has been exposed. Here’s what happened and how it affects you.

What happened?

An unsecured server exposed Wyze customers’ personal information for over three weeks. Cybersecurity firm Twelve Security discovered the leak and published its findings on 26 December. Wyze co-founder Dongsheng Song then confirmed the leak in a forum post on 27 December.

He described the server as a “flexible database” and said an “employee error” caused its security protocols to be removed on 4 December. As a result, customer data in the database was left open to the public for three weeks – or until 26 December, when Wyze was notified of the issue.

It’s worth noting Twelve Security said there are “clear indications” that customers’ data was being sent to the Alibaba Cloud in China, although Song has debated this point, claiming Wyze doesn’t use Alibaba Cloud, and it doesn’t share user data with any government agencies.

How to tell if you are affected

The data of around 2.4 million Wyze customers has been compromised, according to Twelve Security. There is no tool you can use to see if your personal information was on the exposed server or unprotected database, but Wyze said it plans to send an email to all affected customers.

What sort of information was exposed?

Wyze’s exposed server included the following types of personal information belonging to customers, according to Twelve Security:

  • Usernames
  • Email addresses
  • Camera nicknames
  • Device models
  • Firmware information and Wi-Fi SSID details
  • API tokens for iOS and Android
  • Alexa tokens from users who connected Amazon’s voice assistant with their cameras.
  • Health information (like height, weight, bone density, and daily protein intake).

Wyze said its database on the exposed server did not include user passwords. But it did confirm personal health information was on the server due to a beta test of a new smart scale.

What is Wyze doing now?

Wyze has been conducting an audit of all its servers and databases, and it’s already found another unprotected database. According to Song, Wyze is beginning to review “all aspects” of its security guidelines now that multiple databases have been found exposed. It also logged all users out of their accounts and unlinked third-party integrations due to the compromised API and Alexa tokens.

“We’ve often heard people say, ‘You pay for what you get,’ assuming Wyze products are less secure because they are less expensive. This is not true,” Song added. “We’ve always taken security very seriously, and we’re devastated that we let our users down like this.”

Is there anything you should do?

If you were affected by this Wyze data breach, you are now more susceptible to being targeted online by malicious actors.

Short of deleting your Wyze account and ditching Wyze products, be extra mindful about phishing attacks now that your email and username have been exposed. Many hackers use these types of leaked databases to quickly get ahold of a mass pool of potential victims and to improve their phishing attempts. So, be careful when it comes to any spam email, unsolicited requests, random invites to click on links, etc. 

Wired for sound: How SIP won the VoIP protocol wars

Wired for sound: How SIP won the VoIP protocol wars

Update: We’re in the last throes of winter break 2019, which means most Ars’ home office phones can stay dormant for a few more days. As such, we’ve been resurfacing a few classics from the archives—the latest being this look at how SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) won the VoIP protocol wars once upon a time. This story first appeared on December 8, 2009, and it appears unchanged below.

As an industry grows, it is quite common to find multiple solutions that all attempt to address similar requirements. This evolution dictates that these proposed standards go through a stage of selection—over time, we see some become more dominant than others. Today, the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is clearly one of the dominant VoIP protocols, but that obviously didn’t happen overnight. In this article, the first of a series of in-depth articles exploring SIP and VoIP, we’ll look at the main factors that led to this outcome.

A brief history of VoIP

Let’s go back to 1995 in the days prior to Google, IM, and even broadband. Cell phones were large and bulky, Microsoft had developed a new Windows interface with a “Start” button, and Netscape had the most popular Web browser. The growth of the Internet and data networks prompted many to realize that it’s possible to use the new networks to serve our voice communication needs while substantially lowering the associated cost. The first commercial solution of Internet VoIP came from a company called VocalTec; their software allowed two people to talk with each other over the Internet. One would make a local call to an ISP via a 28.8K or 36.6K modem and be able to talk with friends even if they lived far away. I remember trying out this software, and the sound was definitely below acceptable quality. (It frequently sounded like you were attempting to speak while submerged in a swimming pool.) However, the software successfully connected two people and introduced real-time voice conversation for a bandwidth-constrained network.

It was immediately apparent to the first VoIP implementors that there are several differences between the telephone network and the data network. One of them is the message exchange design. The phone system works in circuit-switch, where a circuit is the complete path between two endpoints. Thus, it is possible to guarantee a single path for all messages in a single communication. The data network works with packets, where various hops along the way help to route the packets to their final destination, and this path may change from one packet to the other. Because of this structure, the data network cannot guarantee that the packets of a single session will traverse through the same path. VoIP therefore required some new innovations before it could really get off the ground.

To start a call, you need a VoIP signaling protocol. The term “signaling” comes from the circuit-switch telephone communication world. In this system, we have signals sent from one end to the other in order to communicate and allow us to talk over vast distances. The role of a signaling protocol is to define the way these messages are structured and the rules that let us start, configure, and end conversation. It is worth it to point out that signaling messages do not include the voice one hears (the media of the call). The signaling protocol may include the media streams information and their attributes, but the speech itself in a voice call is not a signaling message. If you’re looking for a very high-level explanation, just think of signaling as the messages a device sends when you dial or hang up the phone.

So the race was on to create a new signaling protocol. Some of these protocol specifications were open for everyone to implement, and others were vendor-proprietary solutions. And that race still isn’t quite over, as we’re constantly seeing new proposals that attempt to convince everyone that there’s a better way to do things. A VoIP signaling protocol must show how it integrates with the data network; this includes aspects such as defining a method of locating the communication devices, specifying server behavior, introducing new services, and security design.

SIP protocol design

SIP is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) protocol and as such, it was designed to be an open Internet protocol. Its first release was in 1999, defined by RFC 2543, but its early drafts date back to 1996. It had some of its definitions revised later in 2002 by RFC 3261.

Let’s look at a simple SIP request:

INVITE sip:[email protected] SIP/2.0
Via: SIP/2.0/UDP home.mynetwork.org;branch=z9hG4bK8uf35f
To: Jon Stokes <sip:[email protected]>
From: Gilad <sip:[email protected]>;tag=n23ycs
Call-ID: [email protected]
CSeq: 59164 INVITE
Contact: sip:[email protected]
Max-Forwards: 70

SIP is text-based. Notice the addresses are very similar to email addresses. Although SIP can support telephone numbers, the basic idea is that the addresses do not have to be phone numbers, just as you would not expect your email address to look like your home or work address. A SIP message might resemble the following (partial) example:

GET /reviews/ HTTP/1.1
Host: arstechnica.com
User-Agent: Gecko/Firefox/3.5.5

Thus, SIP is quite similar to HTTP. The first line is the request line, which contains information regarding the type of request (GET in HTTP and INVITE in SIP for these examples) and the intended address, while subsequent lines are headers with additional information. Naturally, responses in SIP also look very similar to HTTP responses. The idea is to use the structure of one of the most popular Internet protocols and make it easier for software developers and network managers to work with SIP.

These attempts to make SIP as easy as HTTP worked out to some extent, but the requirements of SIP addresses are more complex than HTTP, so the protocol is more complex. For example, it is a basic requirement in SIP to be able to have 2-way symmetric communication, whereas a typical HTTP scenario would be a client making requests to a server and the server sending a response. Even without prior HTTP knowledge, learning this message structure is a very easy task.

For those who are wondering, the SIP example above is the first packet one might send when calling from a SIP phone to Ars Technica’s Deputy Editor, Jon Stokes. I will refrain from going into the technical details of the message contents at this time, as this is a subject for a separate article.

Reuse, and keeping it simple

The role of a signaling protocol is to define the way these messages are structured and the rules that let us start, configure, and end conversation.

Another important factor in SIP’s design was the decision to reuse other existing Internet standards as much as possible. Address location uses DNS, user authentication uses HTTP digest authentication, setting the call media streams uses the Session Description Protocol (SDP), encryption uses TLS and, when applicable, users send each other XML information. This integration further helped establish SIP as part of the Internet protocol world, and vendors could reuse existing implementations in their SIP applications. On the other hand, in some cases the IETF had to make additional definitions in other protocols in order to serve SIP needs.

Keeping the complexity of the servers, especially the proxies, along the call path as minimal as possible is also an emphasis in SIP’s design. SIP Proxies route the messages between the calling parties. The proxies defined in the standard are not aware of the call state, but rather operate on the transaction level and may also be stateless. This helps with scalability, because fewer devices can serve more calls. To do that, the protocol itself was separated to several distinct layers, a common practice programmers use to break down a complex system. This design helps to further simplify SIP and make it easier to implement. At times, keeping this minimal state forced some limitations (and later, some changes in the protocol), but these byproducts were kept to a minimum.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, SIP was not built solely as a replacement for the telephone system. It allows extensions, and it relies on them to provide additional services beyond just simple calls. For example, you can use SIP to maintain user status information in an IM client as well as to set up IM sessions. Another extension enables transferring a call to a third party, something that was simply not defined by the basic SIP specification. This is possible thanks to the fact that SIP provides the necessary basic constructs while limiting those constructs only when necessary. SIP defines the concept of “dialog” which is a 2-way communication, but does not limit dialogs to calls. Two-way communication also includes setting your IM status and receiving your IM friends’ updates. Extensions can also easily define new request or response types and new headers when needed.

Apple’s Emergency SOS feature foils attempted sexual assault

An iPhone owner this week credited Apple’s Emergency SOS feature with thwarting a sexual assault attempt in Virginia Beach, Va., an attack that could have turned deadly had police not received the automated alert.

Emergency SOS

The unnamed woman described her ordeal to CBS affiliate WTKR on Monday.

During the early hours of Sunday a lone stranger approached asking for help in finding his own iPhone, according to the report. The woman, not suspecting danger, agreed to play good Samaritan and was ultimately led to the boardwalk.

“I wasn’t suspecting he was bad. He was a very normal, nice looking guy,” she said. “I was like, ‘Where are your friends? Why are you alone?’ He was like, I’m in the military. I’m not from here,’ and my brother is in the military — I felt bad for him.”

Luring the victim to a secluded area, the unidentified man said he believed the phone was lost in sand. The situation turned sour when the woman attempted to locate the supposedly missing phone with Apple’s “Find My” app, an effort that bore no fruit. She became suspicious when the man was unable to navigate Apple’s iOS user interface, suggesting he did not, in fact, own an iPhone and had manufactured the lost phone scenario.

“I get my phone back and I turn around and I try to run away and he just comes up from behind me, tackles me, grabs my face, is covering my mouth,” the woman said. “I’m trying to scream for help, [he] tackles me to the ground — is like shoving my face to the ground — and now, because I’ve been screaming, he’s holding my mouth even tighter trying to muffle any noise I’m making.”

Luckily, Emergency SOS was enabled on the woman’s iPhone, allowing her to automatically dial 911 without unlocking the device. In this case, a long press of both the power button and volume down button triggered the feature. Emergency SOS can also be invoked by pressing on the power button five times in rapid succession.

Police were directed to her location by a dispatcher who heard her pleas for help.

“They were originally going to look in the hotels and dispatch updated them that I was talking about the water — I’m begging him not to drown, I don’t want to drown — so they knew to come look in the sand,” she said.

The attacker fled on foot when police arrived on scene, but was quickly tracked down and apprehended.

“I’m so thankful for those police officers. I know they have a thankless job, and I just can’t thank them enough,” the woman said.

Apple’s Emergency SOS feature debuted on watchOS in 2016 and made its way to iPhone in 2017. With iOS 11, Apple added the ability to alert designated emergency contacts with am automated text message that incorporates current location information.

Can 5G replace everybody’s home broadband?

Artist's impression of how fast your house might one day be with 5G mobile broadband.
Enlarge / Artist’s impression of how fast your house might one day be with 5G mobile broadband.

Aurich Lawson / Getty

When it comes to the possibility of home broadband competition, we want to believe. And in the case of 5G mobile broadband, wireless carriers want us to believe, too. But whether or not technological and commercial realities will reward that faith remains unclear. As with 5G smartphones, the basic challenge here sits at the intersection of the electromagnetic spectrum and telecom infrastructure economics.

When delivered over millimeter-wave frequencies and their copious amounts of free spectrum, 5G can match the speed and latency of fiber-optic broadband, with downloads of 1 gigabit per second and ping times under 10 milliseconds. But on those frequencies of 24GHz and up, signals struggle to reach more than a thousand feet outdoors. Carriers can fix that by building many more cell sites, each with its own fiber backhaul, but a fiber-to-the-block build-out may not be appreciably cheaper than fiber-to-the-home deployments. And while residences don’t move and don’t mind wireless antennas larger than a shirt pocket—unlike individual wireless subscribers—residences also have walls that often block mmWave signals. (Presumably also unlike individual wireless subscribers.)

The other frequency flavors of 5G (the low- and mid-band ones) don’t suffer mmWave’s allergies to distance or drywall. But they also can’t match its speed or its spectrum availability—which in the context of residential broadband means they may not sustain uncapped bandwidth.

So as much as residential customers might yearn for an alternative to their local telecom monopoly—or for any form of high-speed access besides laggy connectivity from satellites in geosynchronous orbit—5G doesn’t yet rank as a sure thing. There’s a promise, but many things still need to go right for that promise to be fulfilled.

Or, as New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin phrased things in an email: “If your fundamental question is ‘will 5G allow you to dump Comcast’ the answer is absolutely! Depending.”

Verizon’s bet on millimeter-wave broadband

Consider the 5G Home service that Verizon Wireless launched in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento in October 2018 (later expanded to parts of Chicago).

At $70 a month for unlimited data—with a $20 discount if you have a $30 or higher Verizon Wireless smartphone plan—and with download speeds from 300 to 940 megabits per second, the service would compare well with cable even if so many cable Internet plans didn’t include data caps and slap on modem-rental fees.

Reddit threads about the service in Houston, Sacramento and elsewhere offer a mix of praise for its performance (including reports of upload speeds in the range of 200Mbps, significantly faster than what most cable services offer) and complaints about it not being available at individual redditors’ addresses.

Verizon's 5G Houston coverage as of December 2019, with 5G "Ultra Wideband" in dark pink. For an idea of how much of the Houston metro this covers, you can zoom out from the same location at <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Houston,+TX/@29.733833,-95.429167,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x8640b8b4488d8501:0xca0d02def365053b!8m2!3d29.7604267!4d-95.3698028">this Google Maps link</a>.
Enlarge / Verizon’s 5G Houston coverage as of December 2019, with 5G “Ultra Wideband” in dark pink. For an idea of how much of the Houston metro this covers, you can zoom out from the same location at this Google Maps link.

“Towards the beginning of service, there were a few firmware issues with the modem Verizon provided, but they patched that within a month,” said a software engineer in Sacramento who asked not to be named. “Since then, there’s not been significant downtime that I noticed.”

“Overall I’m happy with my 5G,” wrote another 5G Home user in Houston who runs a crisis-management firm. “No downtime that I can remember. I don’t have my exact speeds but it seems pretty quick. More than enough for my TV streaming and Web surfing.”

“There were only a few short (less than 30 min?) cases of 5G service downtime that I can recall, and they were all mostly toward the beginning of my service, so I imagine they were able to fix those stability issues quickly enough,” wrote Vincent Garcia, a software engineer in Sacramento. “My speeds seem to be the same as when I first got the service: 300-600 Mbps down, 120-140 Mbps up.”

Garcia noted one other benefit: “One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that other ISPs in my area seem to have stepped up their game in terms of value (at least in terms of their initial contract period).”

One early fear raised about millimeter-wave 5G, that it would suffer from “rain fade” akin to what cuts out satellite-TV reception during showers, doesn’t yet appear to have emerged as a serious problem. Those Reddit discussions about Verizon’s service don’t mention it, while a Twitter search reveals no firsthand reports of rain-faded 5G.

Ashutosh Dutta, a research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, pointed to a 2019 study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Information Technology Kalyani and the University of Calcutta’s Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics in West Bengal, India. They found that “proper fade mitigation techniques” can keep even heavy rain from disrupting millimeter-wave communication at frequencies up to 40 GHz. Verizon’s 5G Home, at 28 and 39 GHz, sits on the forgiving side of that line.

The Mac Pro arrives at WWDC, and Jony Ive departs

In June, Apple revealed the Mac Pro and announced iPadOS at its annual WWDC, and then admitted that Chief Design Officer Jony Ive was leaving the company.

June 2019 featured WWDC (left, the departure of Jony Ive (center), and the reveal of the Mac Pro (right)

June 2019 featured WWDC (left, the departure of Jony Ive (center), and the reveal of the Mac Pro (right)

More than any other month in 2019, it’s hard to know where to start with June. We were expecting WWDC to offer up some surprises, and it was certainly one of the most successful WorldWide Developer Conferences that Apple has done. We just never saw that Jony Ive would choose now to exit stage left, pursued by a freelance contract to keep advising Apple.

In between the surprises of WWDC and Jony Ive, though, there was one related yet rather sad moment. This month, it was revealed that Cupertino’s Flint Center was to close forever.

We all know what happened in that building. It was in the Flint Center that Steve Jobs unveiled the original Mac to shareholders. That was ahead of the grand public unveiling a week later, but he was back at the Flint Center for the public launch of the iMac.

Steve Jobs unveils the iMac at the Flint Center

Steve Jobs unveils the iMac at the Flint Center

It was at the Flint Center that Tim Cook stood on stage in 2014 to announce the Apple Watch. And to gift us all a U2 album.

The Flint Center is going to be turned into student accommodation now.

WWDC 2019

AppleInsider took you to Apple Park and behind the scenes for the event

The event itself didn’t have surprises that came entirely out of left field. Just about everything was hinted at or leaked before, but the volume of detail on the day was impressive. There were revelations that seemed good at the event but are likely to be the ones we ultimately look back on as being huge.

As far as leaks go, easily the very last one to squeeze in before Tim Cook stepped out on stage was the news that we might get an iPadOS. We did.

Finally, that acre of space between every icon on the iPad screen is fixed —with the new iPadOS.

Finally, that acre of space between every icon on the iPad screen is fixed —with the new iPadOS.

“It’s become a truly distinct experience,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said afterward. “It’s not an iPhone experience. It’s not a Mac experience. The name is a recognition of that.”

What Apple didn’t appear to recognize was just how much people would leap on one single facet of iPadOS. It’s only intended, so far, as an accessibility aid, but you can now connect a mouse or trackpad to your iPad.

Sidecar and macOS Catalina

The new macOS Catalina introduced Sidecar, the ability to use your iPad as a second display for your Mac, just as you’d been able to do for years with solutions from third-party developers.

We all had the same thought when Sidecar was revealed. “Sherlocked,” we said aloud. After the event, we talked with many developers who’d seen their apps gain a pretty massive new competitor in Apple’s macOS features.

A Mac (left) extends its screen onto an iPad (right) using Sidecar in macOS Catalina

A Mac (left) extends its screen onto an iPad (right) using Sidecar in macOS Catalina

Apple zoomed through the unveiling of macOS Catalina, packing in feature after feature that sometimes blurred the lines between its different OSes.

That included the way that macOS now followed iOS in having separate apps for Music, Podcasts, and TV. It was true, iTunes was gone —which sparked a lot of incendiary headlines making people think they were going to lose all the music they’d ever bought.

The truth was in here, though, with AppleInsider explaining what was actually happening and what would actually happen to your music.

While some users were off grumbling about what they thought was happening, Apple revealed update after update. CarPlay had its first-ever significant overhaul, for instance. “Sign in With Apple” got applause as the new equivalent to —but significantly safer and more user-friendly than —signing in with either Google or Facebook.

And then there was the continuing story of Project Catalyst. Introduced in 2018 as a multi-year process, 2019’s episode didn’t seem that groundbreaking. Apple’s Catalyst-based apps —Home, News and so on —were pretty much the same as they were last year, for instance.

Nonetheless, Craig Federighi talked up the project both during WWDC and afterward. He admitted to poor design decisions on Apple’s part for how Catalyst was received initially, but now it is a “no brainer” to use it to put iPad apps on the Mac.

Key to this, though, was a seemingly small announcement at WWDC. The whole week-long event is for developers, of course, but Apple does know the world is watching, so it tends to devote the opening keynote to telling that world what it wants them to hear. This is why you get product releases, why Apple talks up its features.

This time, though, Apple devoted a short spot in the keynote to something no user will ever be conscious of, and yet which every developer we spoke to afterward was most excited by.

SwiftUI is big.

SwiftUI is big.

SwiftUI lets developers create and test apps in the Swift language, taking away as much of the routine burden of development as possible so that they can concentrate on what makes their app unique.

“It just works,” said Federighi.

About iOS 13 and watchOS 6

During WWDC, iOS 13 sounded like the best thing since, well, iOS 12.

Apple mentioned how HomePod, really part of iOS at the moment, would even gain more music to listen to —over 100,000 live radio stations would be coming.

Where that would give our ears something to listen to, Apple Maps was set on helping our eyes. Alongside greater detail for maps that would be rolling out across the US this year and selected other countries in 2020, there was also Look Around.

Apple can call this what it likes. We just knew right away that it was Google Street View in all but name. Until we saw it in action, and now we know it is what Google’s feature should be. And, in all probability, it will be one day.

It's only when you see it live in your hands that you really appreciate how good Look Around is in Apple Maps

It’s only when you see it live in your hands that you really appreciate how good Look Around is in Apple Maps

We also knew right away, though, that this was a way to demolish your battery life. Except Apple also introduced smart battery optimization in iOS 13 to prevent battery ageing.

There was also a lot new in the watchOS 6 release, too. Alongside smaller features such as new watch faces, an updated calculator, audiobooks, and voice memos, there was also the App Store. As of watchOS 6, you can buy apps directly on the Apple Watch.

Right now, that isn’t quite the giant deal that it was when the App Store first came to iOS. But, the easier Apple makes it to sell your apps to Watch users, surely the more apps will come.

There was much more to say about Apple’s various OSes —including HomeKit getting the ability to store security camera video.

All through the iOS and iPadOS details, such as the new features for Apple Pencil, though, the emphasis was on how this helps pro users. But if you’re talking pro, you’re talking about the biggest hardware release Apple had done on stage all year.

Mac Pro is here, or very nearly

Tim Cook and head of hardware John Ternus showed us the new Mac Pro in detail. There was still much we wouldn’t know until its actual release, such as any pricing beyond the base cost, but there was a lot to say at WWDC.

The new 2019 Mac Pro would come with up to 28 cores and be able to handle up to 1.5TB of RAM. It was also as modular as Apple had previously hinted, and it was to be launched alongside the promised Pro Display XDR.

Tim Cook looking like he's wondering if anyone will buy the new Mac Pro. They will.

Tim Cook looking like he’s wondering if anyone will buy the new Mac Pro. They will.

You could also see for yourself. Even if you haven’t got the budget for the base $5,999 Mac Pro or $4,999 Pro Display XDR —and $999 for the stand —you could see how they would look on your desk. Visit the Apple site on an iOS device and you could use AR to see how they looked at life-size and from any angle.

It might be the closest most of us get to owning a Mac Pro, but Apple isn’t exactly aiming this at Mac mini users. Apple was aiming high, and right from the moment of this announcement, there was enough detail about the Mac Pro that AppleInsider was able to report on who would be buying it.

And then there was Jony Ive

At the end of June, we learned of the end of Jony Ive’s era at Apple.

His exit date wasn’t specified beyond being later in 2019, but Apple was also keen to create a blur around the word “leaving.” Ive would reportedly continue work with Apple in some form from his new company, LoveFrom.

“While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come,” Ive said in an interview. “This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change.”

Jony Ive (left) with Steve Jobs

Jony Ive (left) with Steve Jobs

“After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” Ive continued.

“The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

It may have been a “natural and gentle time” to leave, but few outside Apple saw it coming. And the moment Ive’s departure was announced, there were two immediate and obvious reactions.

First, there was the inevitable internal email from Tim Cook praising Ive, and then there was the external furor over how this means Apple is doomed.

Not to knock Ive and his astonishing work, but of course Apple isn’t finished.

What was perhaps less predictable was that as soon as Ive’s departure was revealed, we started to get more details of his work at Apple —including some previously secret snippets.

So we finally learned that yes, Apple had actually made a TV set. Not the Apple TV set-top box, not the Apple TV+ service —which did of course get a mention or three at WWDC —but an actual television set.

We’ll never see it on sale. Whatever reasons stopped Apple releasing it before, Ive’s new firm is concentrating on health and wearable technology instead.

That would seem to fit with where Apple is heading these days —and it may well be time the company moves away from hardware releases given all the troubles it’s had with that this month.

Tariffs and China

June’s episode in the up and down story of Apple in China had a good part where we learned that number of users in the country has been increasing. According to Morgan Stanley, China had its fifth consecutive month of year-over-year user growth.

Then Tim Cook told CBS that Apple had not yet been affected by the US/China trade tensions. However, he also made it clear that the disputes and, in particular, tariffs would hit America.

“The truth is, the iPhone is made everywhere. It’s made everywhere,” he said. “And so — a tariff on the iPhone would hurt all of those countries, but the one that would be hurt the most is this one.”

Tim Cook visited the White House to lobby about tariffs.

Tim Cook visited the White House to lobby about tariffs.

Cook consequently met with President Trump to discuss the issues. He revealed little then of the meeting, but a week later Apple formally requested that the US not impose tariffs on its imported products.

“Apple’s products are used by American families, students, businesses, government agencies, schools, and hospitals,” Apple’s letter to the administration reads, “to communicate, teach, improve health outcomes, enhance creativity and enterprise.”

“The Chinese producers we compete with in global markets do not have a significant presence in the US market, and so would not be impacted by US tariffs. Neither would our other major non-US competitors,” continued. “A US tariff would, therefore, tilt the playing field in favor of our global competitors.”

Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.

ConcreteDirect selects HERE as mapping and location service provider

LafargeHolcim selects HERE Technologies as location services provider


LafargeHolcim selects HERE Technologies as location services provider


Amsterdam – ConcreteDirect, a brand of LafargeHolcim, has selected HERE Technologies, a global leader in location platform services, as its mapping and location services provider to support the future growth of this digital solution.

ConcreteDirect is a simple way to manage orders and track deliveries of concrete through a mobile application, available on iOS and Android. The application makes the life of ConcreteDirect users and customers easier by reducing the complexity and workload. Customers can place, amend and confirm orders in just a few taps and subsequently view upcoming orders and receive important notifications at their fingertips. Moreover, they can track the progress of ongoing deliveries and hence always know where their concrete is and when it arrives.

“Efficient delivery is a key lever of our value proposition,” said Sean Ali, General Manager Digital Solutions at ConcreteDirect. “The service from HERE enables timely deliveries of ready-mixed concrete, which are often on the critical path to success for our customers’ projects. Equivalently, it is a critical tool for our drivers as they navigate the stress of congested city roads. Our shared commitment to open innovation makes this partnership valuable both for today and for the changes that will occur tomorrow.”

Supported by HERE Location Services, ConcreteDirect targets more precise ETAs for customers and drivers, aided by HERE routing algorithms which draw on real-time, predictive and historical traffic data. To support the drivers, HERE’s mobile SDKs will allow ConcreteDirect to build an enterprise grade navigation application for their heavy vehicles.

“World-class logistics requires an enterprise grade mapping platform,” said Erminio Di Paola, VP and Head of Transport and Logistics Applications at HERE Technologies. “Our visibility into live road conditions, advanced routing algorithms and other location tools enable us to support ConcreteDirect in the effective planning and execution of its daily fleet operations.”

Media Contacts 

Kasey Farrar

+1 31 23 40 49 78

[email protected]

Sean Ali

+1 61 79 55 72 59

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About HERE Technologies 

HERE, a location data and technology platform, moves people, businesses and cities forward by harnessing the power of location. By leveraging our open platform, we empower our customers to achieve better outcomes – from helping a city manage its infrastructure or a business optimize its assets to guiding drivers to their destination safely. To learn more about HERE, please visit www.here.com and http://360.here.com.

About ConcreteDirect

ConcreteDirect, a brand of LafargeHolcim, is a simple and paperless way to manage orders and track deliveries of ready-mix concrete through a free smartphone app available on both iOS and Android. The service allows all stakeholders in the process from order to delivery to save time at the jobsite and at the office, to gain full transparency on the concrete orders and to drive better utilization of the crew on site. Visit the Apple App Store or Google Play store and search for “ConcreteDirect” for more details.

Verizon lays off more Yahoo/AOL employees after another drop in revenue

A Verizon logo displayed along with stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange.
Enlarge / A monitor seen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.

Verizon this week is laying off another 150 staffers from the Verizon Media division that includes the Yahoo and AOL subsidiaries, according to a CNN report.

“Verizon Media employs around 10,500 people, so these cuts will amount to 1.4 percent of its work force. It’s unclear which brands will be affected,” CNN wrote.

A Verizon spokesperson confirmed the layoffs, according to the CNN article. We contacted Verizon today and will update this article if we get any more information.

The latest layoffs are less extensive than a major round of job cuts in January 2019. Verizon at that time laid off about 800 people, or about seven percent of the 11,385 workers then employed by Verizon Media.

Verizon purchased Yahoo for $4.48 billion in June 2017 and AOL for $4.4 billion in June 2015. But Verizon’s strategy of acquiring declining online media brands hasn’t been successful in challenging Google and Facebook in the advertising market.

In December 2018, Verizon said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had “experienced increased competitive and market pressures throughout 2018 that have resulted in lower-than-expected revenues and earnings,” and that “[t]hese pressures are expected to continue.” Verizon at the time recorded a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of about $4.6 billion, wiping out nearly all of the Yahoo/AOL division’s goodwill value.

In Q3 2019, the most recent quarter, Verizon reported media-division revenue of $1.8 billion, down two percent year over year. The two-percent decline represented an “improvement in revenue trends,” Verizon said. “Gains in native and mobile advertising continue to be offset by declines in desktop advertising, though the business is building momentum in key areas.”

“We are migrating customers to our recently integrated native and demand-side advertising platforms with double-digit growth year over year,” Verizon CFO Matt Ellis said in an earnings call on October 25. “For the first time, we are seeing mobile traffic increases outpace desktop traffic declines in our core owned and operated products, including sports, finance, news, entertainment, home and mail.”

Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan said last month that the company is focused on growing the division’s advertising, subscriptions, and e-commerce businesses, according to the CNN report.

“Today we are investing in premium content, connections, and commerce experiences that connect people to their passions and continue to align our resources to opportunities where we feel we can differentiate ourselves and scale faster,” Verizon said in a statement about this week’s layoffs.

Premium MacBook Pros from $1299 (up to $1850 off) for 2 days only


B&H’s year-end Mega Deal Zone is here and there are three aggressive Apple MacBook Pro deals to choose from, with prices as low as $1,299 and discounts of up to $1,850 off.

Apple Deal Zone at BH

Lowest prices are back

B&H’s annual Mega Deal Zone has returned — and as 2019 winds down, three of the lowest prices on MacBook Pros are back to ring in the New Year.

The first system, Apple’s standard 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro, is now $500 off in Space Gray, bringing the quad-core notebook down to just $1,299. This portable laptop, which weighs three pounds, originally retailed for $1,799 and is a great option for college students heading back to class January 2020.

Up next is an aggressive discount on a 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro. Featuring upgrades, such as 32GB of memory, 1TB of storage and Radeon Pro 560X graphics, the well-equipped model in Space Gray is on sale for $2,199, a discount of $1,400 off.

Prefer a high-end Core i9 MacBook Pro? The 2018 8-core config with 32GB of RAM, 2TB of space and Radeon Pro 560X graphics is marked down to $2,649. At $1,850 off, this year-end deal matches the lowest price we’ve ever seen on the premium system.

MacBook Pro Deal Zones

This special Mega Deal Zone event is scheduled to end at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 31, but supply may run out at any time.

Additional Apple deals

AppleInsider and Apple authorized resellers are also running additional exclusive savings on Apple hardware for the holidays that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in bonus discounts on AppleCare, software and more. These offers are as follows:

Interested in additional Apple hardware? See if there is a Mac, iPad or Apple Watch deal that will save you $100s by checking out prices.appleinsider.com.

Analysts Set Digital Turbine Inc (NASDAQ:APPS) Price Target at $7.41

Digital Turbine Inc (NASDAQ:APPS) has been given a consensus recommendation of “Buy” by the nine ratings firms that are presently covering the company, Marketbeat Ratings reports. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a hold recommendation, six have assigned a buy recommendation and one has given a strong buy recommendation to the company. The average 1-year target price among analysts that have issued ratings on the stock in the last year is $7.41.

A number of brokerages have issued reports on APPS. National Securities began coverage on Digital Turbine in a research note on Tuesday, December 17th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $11.00 price target on the stock. Roth Capital reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $9.00 price target on shares of Digital Turbine in a research note on Monday, November 25th. Zacks Investment Research raised Digital Turbine from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating and set a $7.75 price target on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, November 6th. BidaskClub lowered Digital Turbine from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Saturday, December 21st. Finally, B. Riley set a $7.00 price target on Digital Turbine and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, September 9th.

NASDAQ:APPS traded down $0.68 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $7.40. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 4,055,350 shares, compared to its average volume of 2,182,125. The company’s fifty day simple moving average is $8.01 and its two-hundred day simple moving average is $6.59. Digital Turbine has a twelve month low of $1.70 and a twelve month high of $9.13. The stock has a market cap of $693.38 million, a P/E ratio of 148.00 and a beta of 1.59.

Digital Turbine (NASDAQ:APPS) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Monday, November 4th. The software maker reported $0.04 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.03 by $0.01. Digital Turbine had a positive return on equity of 28.01% and a negative net margin of 9.47%. The firm had revenue of $32.80 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $31.55 million. On average, equities analysts predict that Digital Turbine will post 0.17 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other news, Director Michelle M. Sterling acquired 13,640 shares of Digital Turbine stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, November 12th. The shares were acquired at an average cost of $7.45 per share, with a total value of $101,618.00. Following the purchase, the director now directly owns 12,199 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $90,882.55. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, CEO William Gordon Stone III sold 35,000 shares of Digital Turbine stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, November 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $8.20, for a total value of $287,000.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 974,480 shares in the company, valued at $7,990,736. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 5.80% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY purchased a new stake in shares of Digital Turbine during the 3rd quarter valued at about $118,000. Millennium Management LLC raised its holdings in shares of Digital Turbine by 38.9% during the 3rd quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 360,849 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $2,325,000 after buying an additional 101,018 shares during the period. Man Group plc purchased a new stake in shares of Digital Turbine during the 3rd quarter valued at about $543,000. Barclays PLC raised its holdings in shares of Digital Turbine by 203.8% during the 3rd quarter. Barclays PLC now owns 151,515 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $976,000 after buying an additional 101,635 shares during the period. Finally, California State Teachers Retirement System raised its holdings in shares of Digital Turbine by 2.6% during the 3rd quarter. California State Teachers Retirement System now owns 122,274 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $788,000 after buying an additional 3,138 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 39.38% of the company’s stock.

About Digital Turbine

Digital Turbine, Inc, through its subsidiaries, provides media and mobile communication solutions for mobile operators, application developers, device original equipment manufacturers, and other third parties worldwide. The company offers Ignite, a mobile application management software to control, manage, and monetize the applications that are installed on mobile devices and professional services directly related to the ignite platform.

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Analyst Recommendations for Digital Turbine (NASDAQ:APPS)

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