Today's Top Technology Headlines
- Exclusive: Apple's Tim Cook to visit China for government meetings - source
Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook plans to visit Beijing later this month to meet high-level government officials, at a time when it is facing some setbacks in its most important overseas market, a source familiar with the matter said. Cook has frequently traveled to China since taking the helm of Apple five years ago, but his latest visit comes during a critical period. Last week, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said in an interview with cable television network CNBC that he had sold his entire stake in Apple, citing China's economic slowdown and worries about whether the government could make it very difficult for Apple to conduct business.
- Facebook loses first round in suit over storing biometric data
(Reuters) - Facebook Inc lost the first round in a court fight against some of its users who sued the social networking company, alleging it "unlawfully" collected and stored users' biometric data derived from their faces in photographs. Facebook filed the motion arguing that the users could not file a complaint under Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) as they had agreed in their user agreement that California law would govern their disputes with the company, and that BIPA does not apply to "tag suggestions." The court found that Illinois law applies and that the plaintiffs have stated a claim under BIPA. The complainants had alleged that Facebook's face recognition feature that suggests "tags" on photos unlawfully collected and stored biometric data, in violation of the Illinois BIPA.
- Toshiba nominates new CEO in bid to put accounting scandal behind it
Japan's Toshiba Corp said it had nominated Satoshi Tsunakawa, a former head of its medical equipment division, to be its next chief executive officer - a move that it hopes will draw a line under a damaging accounting scandal. Sixty-year-old Tsunakawa, who was not embroiled in the scandal, is credited with having grown the medical equipment unit into a major profit driver. A $1.3 billion book-keeping scandal last year has pushed Toshiba to streamline its businesses, announce plans for 14,000 job cuts and the sale of the medical unit to Canon Inc for $5.9 billion.
- President of Philippine bank at center of $81 million heist quits
By Neil Jerome Morales MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines' Rizal Commercial Banking Corp said it has accepted the resignation of its president, Lorenzo Tan, even as it cleared the official of any wrongdoing in connection with a $81 million money laundering scandal. RCBC is at the center of a Senate investigation into a cyber heist in which $81 million was stolen from the Bangladesh central bank's account at the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York and allegedly deposited in one of its branches. RCBC, partly owned by a unit of Cathay Financial Holding Co Ltd, is the country's ninth largest lender in asset terms.
- U.S. trade panel to probe devices of eight smartphone vendors
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) is launching an investigation into mobile devices made by eight smartphone vendors including Samsung Electronics Co over an alleged patent violation, the trade panel said on its website. The probe follows a complaint filed by Singapore-based Creative Technology Ltd and U.S.-based Creative Labs Inc that several handset makers have infringed on their patent, the ITC said in a statement. The accused vendors are ZTE Corp , Sony Corp , Samsung, LG Electronics Inc , Lenovo Group Ltd , Motorola Mobility, HTC Corp and Blackberry Ltd .
- Cognizant posts slowest quarterly revenue growth in 14 years
(Reuters) - IT services provider Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp reported its slowest quarterly revenue growth in 14 years as its clients in the financial and healthcare services held back on spending. "As anticipated, during the first quarter we saw softness in our healthcare segment due to M&A activity, as well as softness in our banking segment due to financial market volatility." president Gordon Coburn said on Friday. Like its Indian rivals Tata Consultancy Services Ltd , and Infosys Ltd , Cognizant also gets the largest chunk of its revenue from financial services clients.
- Should Apple take a page from Google’s playbook and try more moonshots?
Given all of the bizarre advice that analysts and pundits seem to be throwing at Apple these days, you might be forgiven for thinking that the company was in dire straits. From calls to acquire Netflix to pleas to snatch up Tesla and bring Elon Musk on board, the level of panic surrounding Apple's future might have you believe that the company is losing money and, in the span of just one quarter, has lost its ability to innovate. That sentiment, however, couldn't be farther from the truth. Apple's most recent quarter admittedly didn't measure up to last year's earnings report, but the company still managed to post $50 billion in revenue and $10 billion in profits, more than Google, Facebook and Microsoft combined. Furthermore, with the iPhone 7 release looming, we'd all be well advised to perhaps be patient, at least for a few months, and see what type of innovations Apple has in store for us when it releases its next-gen iPhone. DON'T MISS: Watch George Clooney and Julia Roberts crash Gwen Stefani’s Carpool Karaoke But because the fast-moving tech world has never been a realm one associates with patience, the chorus of industry analysts arguing that Apple needs to shake things up only continues to grow louder with each passing day. Most recently, Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times published a piece arguing that Apple should try more moonshots . Moonshots, in case you're unfamiliar, is a term popularized by Google that refers to bold and brazen initiatives that almost seem too crazy, outlandish and too risky to actually pay off. Google of course prides itself on its penchant for moonshots, whether it's the work it's doing on advanced robotics, self driving cars, or the healthcare and disease prevention research it conducts via its Verily subsidiary. With that as a backdrop, Manjoo effectively argues that Apple should take a page out of Google's playbook and perhaps dream a bit bigger than it has been in recent years. To thrive in the next era of tech, Apple needs to take a series of bigger, bolder risks. Apple’s last decade and a half, mostly under Mr. Jobs, has been defined by perfectionist focus... That attitude was perfectly suited to a particular era in tech... But the next moment in tech is likely to be dominated by data-driven online services — more products like Siri and Apple Pay, fewer stand-alone hardware innovations like the iPhone. In that environment, the slow search for precision and perfection might no longer be in Apple’s best interest. Mr. Cook’s goal, now, should be to alter Apple’s governing ethos to induce a small measure of chaos into his company. It is likely that Apple is already working on some bold plans in secret (a car and a pay TV service are among several that have long been reported). The shift I’m calling for would not be radical, just evolutionary. It should be more nimble and slightly more public with its experiments, and push more of them out sooner. When it releases stuff, it should move faster to fix and improve what is wrong. Above all, it should take more risks; it should say yes more often. Manjoo's position is interesting and fair, but there are a few points worth noting. One of the first things Steve Jobs did upon returning to Apple in 1997 was completely decimate a product line that had grown unwieldy. With Jobs at the helm, Apple focused on releasing far fewer products while ensuring that the products they did release were incredibly polished. That being the case, imploring Apple to completely turn around a business structure that helped them become one of the most valuable companies on the planet might reasonably be viewed with a fair share of skepticism. Second, I'm all for crazy and bold ideas (or moonshots if you will) but if we look at Google, for example, it's plainly evident that none of their moonshots have paid off from a profit perspective. Not only does the company still make the vast majority of their money from advertising, but they've recently started to scale back some of their more ambitious projects because of monetization concerns. Third, and Manjoo addresses this issue as well, is the fact that Apple is seemingly held to a double standard as far as their products go, which is to say they're not really afforded any room for failure. Even the Apple Watch, a product that outsold the iPhone in its first year, has largely been derided as a flop. Apple just sold 50.1 million iPhones last quarter and people have already been calling the iPhone 6s a dud. That being the case, big and bold bets from Apple also run the risk of tarnishing the company's pristine brand. Nonetheless, Manjoo speculates that the risk might be well worth it. We’re in an odd time in tech. There are lots of new technologies pegged as potential next big things — artificial intelligence, virtual reality, drones, wearables, the Internet of Things — but figuring out how all these pieces should fit together to create experiences people love necessarily involves experimentation. In this environment, the best new products are not likely to be obvious. They will most likely be ridiculed at first and they may actually be kind of useless in early versions. But over time, with brainstorming and updates based on consumer feedback, you might discover something precious. Again, these are fair and well-reasoned points. But Apple almost seems programmed to avoid this type of strategy at all costs. The company routinely works on projects and products that never see the light of day. And even products that function well are scrapped if they're not sufficiently unique. To wit, Apple for years researched an HDTV but ultimately abandoned plans to release such a product because they couldn't figure out how to sufficiently differentiate it in an already crowded marketplace. Similarly, if Apple ever does release a car - something I'm skeptical of - it stands to reason it will be completely unique and will stand apart from anything else on the market, Tesla included. All that said, the technological landscape is never stagnant, and the business principles that governed the world of tech in 2003 are markedly different from the ones in play in 2016. Consequently, perhaps it's not entirely outlandish to expect Apple to adjust to the changing times and, maybe, heed some of Manjoo's advice. Manjoo also clarifies that Apple's new strategy doesn't necessarily need to involve radical new products like a car; even evolutionary ideas would be a welcome change of pace. What it doesn’t have quite yet is enough of an appetite for the speed and risks that come with creating and maintaining new services. Some of its sins here have been unforgivable. Siri was one of the earliest voice-recognition technologies released to the public. It wasn’t perfect when it came out and Apple has made slow improvements over time. Today’s Siri is vastly more powerful than yesterday’s. But it still feels like a missed opportunity. There is so much Siri should be able to do that it cannot. Why can’t Siri plug into more parts of my phone? Why can’t it tap into the Uber app to call a car for me, or start up HBO Now when I say, “Hey, show me last week’s ‘Game of Thrones’?” I'm certainly inclined to agree. Siri is much better than it was even 2 years ago, but it still seems like there is a boatload of untapped potential lurking beneath its surface. And perhaps that sentiment, in a broad sense, lies at the heart of Manjoo's piece; Apple, with a tremendous ecosystem bolstered by untold millions of loyal users and billions in cash, appears to be moving much more slowly than rival companies with far fewer resources at their disposal. Make sure to hit the source link below for Manjoo's full take on the state of Apple innovation. In a time where ridiculous ideas reign supreme, it's refreshing to see a well thought out take on what Apple can do to take its business and technologies to the next level.
- Justin Timberlake’s first song in three years is the song of the summer
Justin Timberlake teased that his first song since 2013 would be released on May 6th . And he delivered. Can’t Stop The Feeling is already available to purchase on iTunes or to stream on Apple Music and Spotify. And a first video for the new song is now available on YouTube. You’ll easily recognize Timberlake in it, but there are plenty of celebrity cameos as will in Can’t Stop The Feeling . DON’T MISS: Galaxy S7 beats iPhone 6s: Samsung takes back the top spot in the U.S. Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani, Icona Pop, James Corden and Kunal Nayyar are all singing and dancing in Timberlake’s new video. So what gives? It turns out that Timberlake came up with this new track for the upcoming DreamWorks animation movie Trolls , and the first music video simply features the cast of the film. That’s why we’ve got so many stars showing up to help with Timberlake’s video for this very catchy song. Trolls is set to hit theaters on November 4th, featuring an amazing cast. Aside from the celebrities mentioned above, you’ll also hear Zooey Deschanel, Christine Baranski, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Russell Brand lend their voices to some of the trolls in the movie. A trailer for Trolls is available at this link . Check out Timberlake’s brand new music video below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5RobDomh5U
- Apple sued (again) for violating force touch patents
- New trailers: The Handmaiden, Bad Moms, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, and more
This week may have included Star Wars Day, but Star Wars is being totally overshadowed by another juggernaut — Captain America: Civil War, which comes out today and has been getting all-around fantastic reviews. Last weekend, I finally got the chance to rent Kelly Reichardt's River of Grass, her first film, which has been newly restored and is now available online. This was a slower week for trailers (maybe everyone was afraid of a possible Rogue One drop or Captain America hype?), but I'm very excited about at least a few that came out.
- Minecraft is great in Gear VR
The best version of Minecraft will always be "that one time" when "that one thing happened." Maybe it was in the early beta days, when multiplayer Lego was so novel you couldn't help but be amazed. Maybe it's on the Xbox One, where four-player split screen Minecraft on a couch gives griefing a whole new meaning. Maybe it's ultra-modded Minecraft, where you build a factory, and then a spaceship, and then you fly to Mars.
- A look inside the Department of Homeland Security's cyberhub
The building where the Department of Homeland Security tracks every cyber attack against the US is surprisingly bland. The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, better known by the abbreviated NCCIC, opened in 2009 to serve as a place where DHS could monitor cyber threats across government agencies and critical infrastructure, such as power grids and dams. If an attacker ends up on the Department of Agriculture’s network or a government employee surfs to a malicious website, for example, the NCCIC is supposed to detect it.
- 'Uncharted' swings onto smartphones as a free puzzle game
- See the ridiculous way Star Wars: The Force Awakens almost opened
On Star Wars Day, Mark Hamill confirmed that Star Wars: The Force Awakens nearly had a different — and arguably not so hot — opening sequence. The intro, detailed by Hamill in an interview with The Sun, would have featured Luke Skywalker's severed hand floating through space, his lightsaber still clutched, just as it was at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Hamill speculates that hand may have belonged to Maz Kanata, the millennium-old smuggler and tavern owner who we meet midway through the film on the lush planet of Takodana.
- Microsoft's Windows Store for Business now sells apps in bulk