Apple launches ‘Podcasts Connect’ Web portal for managing digital content

Apple on Tuesday made it easier for podcaster to validate, publish and manage their content online with the launch of a new iTunes Connect-based Web service called Podcasts Connect.


From podcast submission to RSS feed editing, the Podcasts Connect portal keeps a bevy of content management tools — presented in an easy-to-use dashboard style layout — close at hand with Mac and PC Web browser support, an upgrade from the previous system that required clicking through the “Submit a Podcast” link in iTunes.

As noted by podcast hosting service Libsyn earlier this month, the new dashboard lets users create new podcasts or take control of existing feeds. Anyone with an Apple ID can submit a podcast for validation once they create an RSS feed and associated host URL.

According to Apple’s Podcasts Connect support webpage, users can submit, test and validate episodes directly from on the Web portal. The dashboard also provides content management tools, allowing users to refresh, delete, hide and unhide specific shows from the iTunes podcast directory. More advanced options include monetization and marketing management.

Since popularizing podcasts as an accessible, yet widely distributable, digital medium, Apple has generally taken a hands-off approach to the serialized Internet broadcasts. The company does, however, pre-install a first-party Podcasts app on iOS devices and hosts a corresponding content category in the iTunes Store. Most recently, Apple added a Podcasts app analogue to fourth-generation Apple TV boxes with tvOS version 9.1.1.

The Podcasts Connect portal went live on Tuesday and is accessible by anyone holding a valid Apple ID.

[“source-appleinsider”]

Apple Fight On iPhone Access Extends To Other Cases

Apple Fight On iPhone Access Extends To Other Cases

Apple has been locked in a legal and public relations battle with the government in the California case. (AFP Photo)

WASHINGTON:  Apple is battling the US government over accessing locked devices in at least 10 cases around the country, in addition to the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino attackers, court documents show.

The existence of other court disputes lends credence to Apple’s argument that the high-profile legal case in California is about more than a single iPhone.

Apple provided a list of cases where it is opposing the US Justice Department’s requests in a February 17 letter to a federal judge in Brooklyn, where the company is challenging government efforts to access an iPhone in a drug trafficking case.

The letter said all the requests sought Apple’s assistance under the All Writs Act, a 1789 law which allows the courts broad authority to help law enforcement.

“Apple has not agreed to perform any services on the devices to which those requests are directed,” Apple’s lawyer Marc Zwillinger said in the letter.

The letter said the cases were “similar in nature” but did not provide specifics about the government’s requests.

It said the San Bernardino case was “even more burdensome” than the other requests because it would require the company to create new software to help investigators break into the iPhone.

Apple has been locked in a legal and public relations battle with the government in the California case, where the FBI is seeking technical assistance in hacking the iPhone of Syed Farook, a US citizen, who with his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik in December gunned down 14 people.

US officials argue the case would not set a legal precedent, but Apple and its supporters claim it could force the company to do the same in other cases and lead to a weakening of security.

In the Brooklyn case, prosecutors responded to the Apple letter with their own filing, claiming that the company’s position has been “inconsistent at best.”

The letter from US Attorney Robert Capers said that “numerous judges around the nation have found it appropriate, under the All Writs Act, to require Apple to assist in accessing a passcode-locked Apple device where law enforcement agents have obtained a warrant to search that device.”

Apple’s letter to the Brooklyn judge cited eight additional cases in New York, California, Illinois and Massachusetts where the government was seeking assistance in accessing iPhones or iPads.

[“source-ndtv”]

Dying Husband Left Her the House and Car, but Forgot the Apple Password

Dying Husband Left Her the House and Car, but Forgot the Apple Password

After Peggy Bush’s husband, David, succumbed to lung cancer last August, she liked to play card games on their iPad to pass the time. The 72-year-old resident of Victoria, Canada, was on an app one day when it suddenly stopped working, and she was unable to reload the device without providing a password for their Apple ID account.

Bush’s husband never told her the password, and she hadn’t thought to ask. Unlike so many of the things David had left for Bush in his will – car ownership, the title of the house, basically everything he owned – this digital asset followed him to the grave.

According to reporting by the Canadian Broadcasting Channel, the journey to procure the password proved more difficult than any other process involved in David’s passing.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” Bush told CBC. “I could get the pensions, I could get benefits, I could get all kinds of things from the federal government and the other government. But from Apple, I couldn’t even get a silly password.”

At first, they thought the solution would be simple. Bush’s daughter, Donna, called Apple to ask about having the password retrieved and the account reset. The company then requested David’s will and death certificate.

When they got these documents together and called a second time, Apple said they had never heard of the case. Donna told CBC that it took several phone calls and two months of waiting for Apple to accept a notarized death certificate, her father’s will and the serial numbers for the iPad and Mac computer to which Bush also wanted access.

But this was not enough. Over the phone, a representative told Donna the next step: “You need a court order.”

“I was just completely flummoxed,” Donna told CBC. “What do you mean a court order?”

Obtaining one could cost thousands of dollars, depending on the need for a lawyer, so Donna decided to take her complaint straight to the top.

“I then wrote a letter to Tim Cook, the head of Apple, saying this is ridiculous,” she said. “All I want to do is download a card game for my mother on the iPad. I don’t want to have to go to court to do that, and I finally got a call from customer relations who confirmed, yes, that is their policy.”

While Bush had the option of setting up a new Apple ID account, that would have meant losing all the app purchases that she and her husband had made on the original one.

Bush ended up buying a new laptop (not a Mac). Her mission to gain access to her husband’s Apple ID seemed futile until CBC’s “Go Public” wing contacted the company on Bush’s behalf.

Apple apologized for the “misunderstanding” and has since started working with Bush to solve the issue without a court order, CBC reported this week.

For the Bushes, the overdue response feels like putting a Band-Aid on a larger problem.

“We certainly don’t want other people to have to go through the hassle that we’ve gone through,” Donna told CBC. “We’d really like Apple to develop a policy that is far more understanding of what people go through, especially at this very difficult time in our family’s life, having just lost my dad.”

Toronto estate lawyer Daniel Nelson told CBC that online access is controlled by service providers such as Apple, even if users own their digital material. He described the court order demand as “heavy-handed,” but also said Canadian digital property laws are “murky.”

While the incident occurred in Canada, Americans have encountered similar snafus involving the digital assets of deceased relatives on this side of the border.

In 2011, after 15-year-old Eric Rash of Virginia committed suicide, his parents desperately wanted to know why. But when they tried looking to his Facebook page for answers, the website cited state and federal privacy laws blocking their access.

“We were just grieving parents reaching out for anything we could,” Rash’s father, Ricky, told The Washington Post in 2013.

The question of whether digital assets should be treated the same as material possessions where inheritance is concerned has emerged naturally with the growing ubiquity of social media usage, but few concrete answers have been offered by lawmakers and legal authorities. Most states place digital and physical property in different categories, and tech companies themselves prohibit password-sharing. This means that often a person’s virtual trail continues to float in cyberspace following their death, adding to the grief felt by surviving family.

That, however, is slowly changing.

Thanks to a bill passed two years ago, Virginia is now among a handful of other states that have enacted legislation addressing the inheritance of email, blogs and other social media. More recently, Delaware passed a law in 2014 that gives family members and other heirs complete control over an individual’s digital accounts after their passing. And nearly a year ago, Facebook rolled out new settings that allow users to manage how their account will appear to the public and whether they want to pass it onto someone else in the event of their deaths.

“It’s big. It’s real big,” attorney Deborah Matthews told The Post in August 2014, after the Delaware legislation was announced. “I ask my clients the same thing I ask them about their safe deposit boxes: Who has access? Who has a key?”

China Smartphone Glory Days Are Over as Apple, Xiaomi Face Tough Times

China Smartphone Glory Days Are Over as Apple, Xiaomi Face Tough Times

China’s smartphone boom may be over, as even Apple Inc grapples with a slowing economy and investor darling Xiaomi Inc struggles to stand out amid intense competition in low-margin handsets.

On Tuesday, Apple reported the slowest-ever increase in iPhone shipments as the Chinese market weakened. That slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy is threatening to hamstring consumption across the country.

Xiaomi, China’s most valuable startup with a $45 billion (roughly Rs. 3,06,047 crores) pricetag, is under threat, after it missed targets for $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,801 crores) in Internet service revenue and also handsets sales in 2015.

As China’s economy grows at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century, the country’s once booming smartphone market has become saturated. For vendors whose products have become commoditised and make little to no profit, that doesn’t just mean the years of easy growth are in the past, but that it could be a struggle to keep their heads above water.

(Also see:  Apple Says It Has Over 1 Billion Active Devices Worldwide)

“The large growth rates that we saw in years past are definitely much different now,” said Bryan Ma, analyst at IDC, which predicted China’s smartphone market will grow at 1-2 percent this year. “In theory it could slip below zero this year, but either way, it’s relatively flat.”

Last year, IDC estimated it grew 2 percent. From 2011 to 2013, the market on average more than doubled in size each year.

Xiaomi’s Internet services revenue surged 150 percent to CNY 3.71 billion ($563.94 million or roughly Rs. 3,834 crores) from CNY 1.48 billion a year earlier, an internal document reviewed by Reuters showed.

xiaomi_phone_reuters.jpgA spokeswoman for Xiaomi declined to comment on revenue for 2015.

Like peers such as Apple, Beijing-based Xiaomi is trying to sidestep a slowdown in the world’s largest handset market by coaxing smartphone buyers to also purchase Internet services and opening stores in China’s less wealthy cities.

The firm has grown rapidly since it started in 2010. But Xiaomi’s valuation has been questioned recently as the firm has struggled to maintain its early growth surge.

Xiaomi missed its global shipment target by 12 percent, selling 70 million handsets last year, when domestic rivals such as Lenovo Group Ltd and top player Huawei Technologies Co Ltd countered at home with similar Internet-only device sales campaigns.

“Given that Xiaomi’s valuation has always been based on the company being more than a commodity handset manufacturer, missing their services revenue goal by such a significant margin is even more concerning than missing their handset target,” said Ben Thompson, a tech analyst at Stratechery.

Now it’s a question of whether Xiaomi can grow that revenue fast enough to prove its critics wrong, Thompson said.

The company encapsulates the risks of a vendor like Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in recent years, who can’t build a moat for their business.

“The only way to win with an undifferentiated product is having a superior cost structure and scale,” said Thompson. “Samsung did it, and now Huawei is doing it. ‘Win’ is all relative though, if you’re making a couple of bucks in profit per phone.”

[“Source-Gadgets”]