Photo Book | 20 Years of Design by Apple

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Dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs, a hardcover photo book, titled “Designed by Apple in California” was revealed today. Shot by photographer Andrew Zuckerman in a deliberately spare style… the book contains 450 images that brilliantly illustrate Apple’s design process as well as chronicle the inside, outside & evolution of its finished products.

jonny-ive“The idea of genuinely trying to make something great for humanity was Steve’s motivation from the beginning, and it remains both our ideal and our goal as Apple looks to the future,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer. “This archive is intended to be a gentle gathering of many of the products the team has designed over the years. We hope it brings some understanding to how and why they exist, while serving as a resource for students of all design disciplines.”

“Designed by Apple in California” is available in two sizes and printed on specially milled, custom-dyed paper with gilded matte silver edges, using eight color separations and low-ghost ink. This linen-bound, hardcover volume was developed over an eight-year period. It is published by Apple.

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Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, & to leaving the world better than they found it. Quite the noble goal.

// Read The Complete Press Release //

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Apple Developing Smart Glasses

Apple Inc. is weighing an expansion into digital glasses, a risky but potentially lucrative area of wearable computing, according to people familiar with the matter.

While still in an exploration phase, the device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, and may use augmented reality, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a secret project.

// WATCH BLOOMBERG COVERAGE OF APPLE’S LATEST R&D NEWS //

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Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers, according to people familiar with those discussions. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing, the people said. Apple hasn’t ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production, one of the people added.

Should Apple ultimately decide to proceed with the device, it would be introduced in 2018 at the earliest, another person said. The Cupertino, California-based company tests many different products and is known to pivot, pause, or cancel projects without disclosing them. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

apple-conference-wwdc-2014-ceo-tim-cookChief Executive Officer Tim Cook is under pressure to deliver new products amid slowing sales of the iPhone, which accounts for two-thirds of Apple’s revenue. In July, he expressed enthusiasm for augmented reality after the rise of Pokemon Go, a location-based game that uses the technology. AR, as it’s known, adds images and other digital information to people’s view of the real world, while virtual reality completely surrounds them with a computer-generated environment.

The glasses may be Apple’s first hardware product targeted directly at AR, one of the people said. Cook has beefed up AR capabilities through acquisitions. In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, which developed motion-sensing technology in Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect gaming system. Purchases of software startups in the field, Metaio Inc. and Flyby Media Inc., followed in 2015 and 2016.

“AR can be really great, and we have been and continue to invest a lot in this,” Cook said in a July 26 conference call with analysts. “We are high on AR for the long run. We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”

Apple has AR patents for things like street view in mapping apps. It was also awarded patents for smart glasses that make use of full-fledged virtual reality. Apple is unlikely to leverage VR in a mass-consumer product, Cook suggested in October.

“I can’t imagine everyone in here getting in an enclosed VR experience while you’re sitting in here with me, but I could imagine everyone in here in an AR experience right now,” he said during an onstage discussion in Utah.

Apple’s challenge is fitting all the technology needed into a useful pair of internet-connected glasses that are small and sleek enough for regular people to wear.

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Google’s attempt to develop internet-connected eye wear flopped in part because its tiny battery ran out quickly. Google Glass, as it was called, also suffered a privacy backlash and poor public perception of its external design.

After that disappointment, technology companies largely turned their immediate focus to VR and away from AR. Google recently introduced a VR headset alongside its Pixel smartphone, and Facebook Inc.’s Oculus VR unit has teamed up with Samsung Electronics Co. on a similar headset. Microsoft has the most public AR offering. Its HoloLens product shows holographic images in a user’s field of vision.

Apple’s effort may be more difficult because the chips, batteries and other components that will be available in a year or two may still not be small enough and powerful enough to build slim glasses capable of handling compelling AR experiences.

However, given time, technical challenges may play to Apple’s strengths. The company specializes in turning technology that others have struggled with into easy-to-use devices for the masses. For example, Apple simplified fingerprint technology into an unlocking mechanism for the iPhone and took touch screens mainstream with the original iPhone.

Augmented reality “is going to take a while, because there are some really hard technology challenges there, but it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it,” Cook said last month. “Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.”

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Panama Papers: Leak Exposes Global Web

A massive document leak reveals a global web of corruption & tax avoidance

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Mossack Fonseca is not a household name, but the Panamanian law firm has long been well known to the global financial and political elite, and thanks to a massive 2.6 terabyte leak of its confidential papers to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists it’s about to become much better known. A huge team of hundreds of journalists is pouring over the documents they are calling the Panama Papers.

The firm’s operations are diverse and international in scope, but they originate in a single specialty — helping foreigners set up Panamanian shell companies to hold financial assets while obscuring the identities of their real owners. Since its founding in 1977, it’s expanded its interests outside of Panama to include over 40 offices worldwide, helping a global client base to work with shell companies not just in Panama but also the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and other notorious tax havens around the world.

The documents provide details on some shocking acts of corruption in Russia, hint at scandalous goings-on in a range of developing nations, and may prompt a political crisis in Iceland.

But they also offer the most granular look ever at a banal reality that’s long been hiding in plain sight. Even as the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations have engaged in increasingly complex and intensive efforts at international cooperation to smooth the wheels of global commerce, they have willfully chosen to allow the wealthiest members of Western society to shield their financial assets from taxation (and in many cases divorce or bankruptcy settlement) by taking advantage of shell companies and tax havens.

If Panama or the Cayman Islands were acting to undermine the integrity of the global pharmaceutical patent system, the United States would stop them. But political elite of powerful western nations has not acted to stop relatively puny Caribbean nations from undermining the integrity of the global tax system — largely because western economic elites don’t want them to.

What’s a shell company? Why would someone want one?

Sometimes a person or a well-known company or institution wants to buy things or own assets in a way that obscures who the real buyer is.

The typical reason for this is a kind of routine corporate secrecy. Apple, for example, appears to have created a shell company called SixtyEight Research that journalists believe to be a front for its interest in building a car. Since Apple happens to be the most-covered company on the planet this hasn’t been incredible effective and when SixtyEight Research staff showed up at an auto industry conference everybody noticed.

But in general, companies don’t like to tip their hand to what they are doing and the use of shell companies to undertake not-ready-for-public-announcement projects can be a useful tool.

Shell companies are often sometimes used for simple privacy reasons. Real estate transactions, for example, are generally a matter of public record. So an athlete, actor, or other celebrity who wants to buy a house without his name and address ending up in the papers might want to pay a lawyer to set up a shell company to do the purchasing.

Okay, but how about the shady stuff?

As is generally the case in life, secrecy can have illegitimate purposes as well. This is particularly true for shell companies set up in international centers of banking secrecy that offer a level of anonymity and obscurity that goes beyond simply making it hard to look up the real owner’s name online.

Your soon-to-be-ex-wife cannot seize half of the money in an account that she and her lawyers don’t know exists and can’t prove that you own, for example. Nor can your creditors seize such an account in a bankruptcy proceeding. Nor can the government levy estate taxes on it when you die and pass it on to your kids. In all those circumstances, a Panamanian company that you secretly control and that holds stocks, bonds, and other financial assets on your behalf could be the ideal vehicle.

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By the same token, if you have made a bunch of money illegally (taking bribes, trafficking drugs, etc.) you need to do something with the money that won’t attract the attention of the authorities or the media. A secret offshore shell company is perfect. Not only does it help you avoid scrutiny in real time, but if you are found out its assets can’t be taken from you if you have to flee the jurisdiction or even serve jail time.

But even though various criminal money-laundering schemes are the sexiest possible use of shell companies, the day-to-day tax dodging is what really pays the bills. As a manager of offshore bank accounts told me years ago, “people think of banking secrecy as all about terrorists and drug smugglers, but the truth is there are a lot of rich people who don’t want to pay taxes.” And the system persists because there are a lot of politicians in the west who don’t particularly want to make them.

What do the Panama Papers show?

As you would imagine, there is quite a lot in the 2.6 terabytes. Here are a few of the highlights that the team found, with links to the full stories where you can read the details:

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has a full profile of political figures and their relatives named in the Panama Papers for your reading pleasure.

But though political corruption is fun and newsy, the document dump also features a leaked memorandum from a Mossack Fonseca partner revealing the more boring truth that “Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.”

How much money is there in offshore tax havens?

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A big part of the idea, of course, is to make it hard for anyone to know for sure.

But Gabriel Zucman, an economics professor at UC Berkley, studied the estimates that  now total at least $7.6 trillion. That’s upwards of 8 percent of all the world’s financial wealth, and it’s growing fast. Zucman estimates that offshore wealth has surged about 25 percent over the past five years.

Much of that reflects “new money” from China and other developing nations whose citizens to an extent have legitimate fears about political stability and the rule of law.

But some of it is simple avarice. The name of Ian Cameron, the late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron, shows up in the Panama Papers, for example. Mossack Fonseca helped him set up his investment company Blairmore Holdings (named after his family’s ancestral country estate) in the British Virgin Islands where, marketing material assured investors, the company “will not be subject to United Kingdom corporation tax or income tax on its profits.”

This particular kind of move is perfectly legal and doesn’t even involve any secrecy. It is entirely typical for investment companies whose employees all work or reside in New York, London, or Connecticut to be domiciled for tax purposes in someplace like the Cayman Islands. Since these companies don’t own much in the way of physical assets, they can be officially located anywhere in the world and naturally choose to locate in jurisdictions where they won’t need to pay taxes.

Why doesn’t anyone do anything about this?

To an extent, things have been done.

First the war on drugs, and then more recently the war on terror, led to meaningful political pressure on countries around the world to alter their banking practices so as to reduce global money-laundering. More recently, the European Union has successfully pressured Switzerland to change its laws to make it easier for the EU to catch people engaged in criminal tax evasion.

But there’s a big difference between tax evasion — illegally refusing to pay taxes that you owe, and then taking advantage of secret accounts to try to hide the money and get away with it — and tax avoidance, which is hiring clever people to help you find and exploit legal loopholes to minimize your tax bill.

Incorporating your hedge fund in a country with no corporate income tax even though all your fund’s employees and investors live in the United States is perfectly legal. So is, in most cases, setting up a Panamanian shell company to own and manage most of your family’s fortune.

Tax avoidance is an inevitable feature of any tax system, but the reason this particular form of avoidance grows and grows without bounds is that powerful politicians in powerful countries have chosen to let it happen. As the global economy has become more and more deeply integrated, powerful countries have created economic “rules of the road” that foreign countries and multinational corporations must follow in order to gain lucrative market access.

Establishing some kind of minimum global standard of taxation of corporate and investment income hasn’t been done because it hasn’t been a political priority. In the United States, in particular, the Republican Party fights quite hard for the view that high levels of taxation on rich people and investment income are economically ruinous so there isn’t the kind of institutional mobilization that exists around drug trafficking or possible terrorism financing.

The leak of the Panama Papers is significant in part because of the specific information they contain, but more broadly because they draw attention to what “everyone knows” and may put public pressure on the powers that be to do something about it.

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Connected Devices Cry Out – Now

Recently, a friend left his home & his smart-watch beeped to inform him that his phone was out of range. Yep… It’s happening.

Our devices are now warning us not to forget our other devices. What a great idea.

The CES show going on right now in Las Vegas and is more than just the latest smattering of future must-have gadgets… It’s the future of the tech that will be invading every part of how we live and how we manage our connected devices moving forward. Samsung announced that 90% of the products it sells will be Internet-enabled by 2017. That’s shocking. And, essentially, that means you will be too. Are you ready?

Here are some of the more strange & intriguing items you might find if you were in attendance at CES today.

 

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Why Millennials Don’t Want To Buy Stuff

The concept of shopping has shifted from owning stuff to buying into new ideas. 

As all forms of media make their journey into a digital, de-corporeal space, research shows that people are beginning to actually prefer this disconnected reality to owning a physical product. So is technology the culprit, then?

Though it often seems to be the driver, technology cannot be the cause either, because it is simply an extension of the way we think. New tech is created because someone has decided to think differently about the world. This may, in turn, spur new technology, but the new thinking is always first. And there’s the culprit.

Humanity is experiencing an evolution in consciousness.

We are starting to think differently about what it means to “own” something. This is why a similar ambivalence towards ownership is emerging in all sorts of areas, from car-buying to music listening to entertainment consumption. Though technology facilitates this evolution and new generations champion it, the big push behind it all is that our thinking is changing.

(Not an exact quote: Much like Nikola Tesla expressed not so eloquently in his early interviews… “Often times technology, or the idea of the convenience it provides must wait while the world comes around to the idea itself.” For inventors & entrepreneurs, sometimes the wait can be agony.)

Read The Complete Fast Company Story | 

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Jonny Ive: The Man Behind Apple

Short of having a top secret classification this type of insightful information from the helm of the world leading design department at Apple is treasure.

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In a rare interview, Jony Ive spoke to The Sunday Times over the weekend, discussing everything from design philosophy to traveling with Steve Jobs. Here are a few choice cuts about:

The State of design:

“We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects. It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them. But what we’ve shown is that people do care. It’s not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made.”

Companies Copying Apple Designs:

“It’s theft … what’s copied isn’t just a design, it’s thousands and thousands of hours of struggle. It’s only when you’ve achieved what you set out to do that you can say, ‘This was worth pursuing.’ It takes years of investment, years of pain.”

The Future Of Apple:

“We are at the beginning of a remarkable time, when a remarkable number of products will be developed. When you think about technology and what it has enabled us to do so far, and what it will enable us to do in future, we’re not even close to any kind of limit. It’s still so, so new.”

Traveling With Steve Jobs:

“We’d get to the hotel where we were going, we’d check in and I’d go up to my room. I’d leave my bags by the door. I wouldn’t unpack. I’d go and sit on the bed and wait for the inevitable call from Steve: ‘Hey Jony, this hotel sucks. Let’s go.'”

|  Read The 9to5mac.com Story 

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iOS7 Keylogger Flaw

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Last week Apple issued an update to iOS 7.0.6, which fixed a serious flaw that could allows hackers to bypass SSL/TLS security verification and intercept their data. Apple just patched a this  vulnerability flaw, but that doesn’t appear to the end of its mobile security problems.

Researchers now say malicious keylogging apps can exploit your iPhone.

Ars Technica pointed Tuesday to a blog post from security company FireEye that shows a new security flaw in iOS 7 that could allow certain apps to log your keystrokes as they run in the background. According to FireEye, it has been collaborating with Apple on this latest security issue & we should expect a patch soon.   

|  Read The Full Security Breakdown by FireEye

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