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    Banks fined $549M after senior execs found secretly texting on Signal, WhatsApp / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 8 August - 19:22

Banks fined $549M after senior execs found secretly texting on Signal, WhatsApp

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket )

Banks with employees covertly texting about official business on apps like Signal, WhatsApp, and iMessage have been caught red-handed. Now federal agencies are charging banks with violating laws requiring recordkeeping on all business matters.

Today, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) fined 11 firms a combined $549 million for what the SEC described as "widespread and longstanding failures by the firms and their employees to maintain and preserve electronic communications."

Wells Fargo was hit with the biggest fines, agreeing to pay the SEC a $125 million penalty and the CFTC another $75 million. Fines for other firms—including Bank of Montreal, BMO Capital Markets Corp., BNP Paribas, Houlihan Lokey Capital, Inc., Mizuho Securities USA, Moelis & Company LLC, SMBC Nikko Securities America, Inc., Société Générale, and Wedbush Securities Inc.—ranged between $9 million and $75 million.

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    Developer logs reveal more details about next-gen Apple M3 and M3 Max chips / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 8 August - 16:48 · 1 minute

The Mac Studio, a likely recipient of a new M3 Max chip.

Enlarge / The Mac Studio, a likely recipient of a new M3 Max chip. (credit: Andrew Cunninghan)

Apple's M3 processor generation is continuing to take shape thanks to what seem to be unreleased internal test devices that are showing up in the analytics data of third-party app developers. Back in May , Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported on the specs of what appeared to be a new M3 Pro processor. Yesterday, Gurman revealed the specs of a new M3 Max , which has a total of 16 CPU cores and 40 GPU cores, plus 48GB of memory (likely not the maximum that will be available since the current MacBook Pros can go up to 96GB).

The current M2 Max, found in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac Studio, tops out at 12 CPU cores and 38 GPU cores. Gurman says that all four of the M3 Max's extra CPU cores should be large, high-performance cores rather than smaller efficiency cores; both kinds of cores boost speeds, but performance cores are obviously more useful for high-end workloads.

Earlier this week, Gurman also noticed a new base-model M3 chip that continued to use 8 CPU cores and 10 GPU cores, just like the current M2. This chip would still be a speed upgrade from the M2, but it would have to rely on architectural improvements and clock speed boosts rather than extra cores. The original M1 used eight CPU cores as well, also split evenly between high-performance and high-efficiency cores.

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    Report: Apple buys every 3 nm chip that TSMC can make for next-gen iPhones and Macs / ArsTechnica · Monday, 7 August - 20:35 · 1 minute

Silicon wafers from a TSMC factory.

Enlarge / Silicon wafers from a TSMC factory. (credit: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd.)

It's been rumored for several months now that Apple will be using a new 3 nm manufacturing process from Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) for its next-generation chips, including M3 series processors for Macs and the A17 Bionic for some next-gen iPhones . But new reporting from The Information illuminates some of the favorable terms that Apple has secured to keep its costs down: Apple places huge chip orders worth billions of dollars, and in return, TSMC eats the cost of defective processor dies.

At a very high level, chip companies use large silicon wafers to create multiple chips at once, and the wafer is then sliced into many individual processor dies. It's normal, especially early in the life of an all-new manufacturing process, for many of those dies to end up with defects—either they don't work at all, or they don't perform to the specifications of the company that ordered them.

Normally, chip designers would have to pay for each individual die whether it worked or not; that's a major reason why companies sell cut-down or "binned" chips that run at lower clock speeds or have parts switched off. That way, they can recover some money from a defective die instead of none. Apple's orders with TSMC are apparently large enough that TSMC can afford not to charge Apple for defective dies.

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    Apple will require app devs to explain exactly why they use certain APIs / ArsTechnica · Friday, 28 July - 21:58

A blue smartphone with two cameras.

Enlarge / The back of the iPhone 13. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple has announced an additional hoop developers must jump through to get their apps approved on its App Store. Soon, developers of apps that use certain APIs will have to clarify their reasons for using them when submitting those apps.

Apple is trying to close some fingerprinting loopholes here. The term "fingerprinting" in this context refers to various techniques for learning information about a device or its user and tracking them across multiple unrelated apps or websites.

It's something that Apple has been saying is not allowed in iPhone apps for a while, and the company introduced the controversial App Tracking Transparency initiative in 2021 to give users a choice in whether things like mobile ad networks (for example) could track them in this way.

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    Devs aren’t allowed to let Apple’s Vision Pro dev kits out of their sight / ArsTechnica · Friday, 28 July - 18:40 · 1 minute

Devs aren’t allowed to let Apple’s Vision Pro dev kits out of their sight

Enlarge (credit: Apple/Andrew Cunningham)

Apple is taking several steps to help developers prepare their apps for Apple's new Vision Pro platform next year, above and beyond the Vision Pro simulator that comes with the Xcode development environment. One of those steps is actual pre-release hardware in the form of the Apple Vision Pro developer kit (DK) .

This is pre-release Vision Pro hardware that Apple will loan to selected developers for the express purpose of developing and testing apps. Apple has offered these kinds of kits to some developers before, most notably during the Apple Silicon transition when it loaned out Developer Transition Kits that put the guts of an iPad Pro into a Mac mini-sized enclosure.

But some developers have drawn attention to the terms and conditions ( PDF ) for the Vision Pro DK, which are notably restrictive and specific. The most specific terms are in section four, under "care and storage of the DK," which say that the DK is only to be used in a lockable windowless room, that your friends and family aren't allowed to see it, that it must remain within your direct line of sight at all times, that it must be in its case and locked up when not in use, and that you need to consult with Apple if you'll be on a long trip or vacation and are leaving the DK behind. The full paragraph:

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    Apple Pencils can’t draw straight on third-party replacement iPad screens / ArsTechnica · Friday, 28 July - 15:05

Gloved hands using an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro with squiggly results

Enlarge / iCorrect's attempts to draw a straight line on an iPad Pro with a third-party replacement screen led them to look at the screen's embedded chips for parts-pairing problems. (credit: iCorrect UK )

The latest part of an Apple device to demand a repair by its maker appears to be the screens on newer iPads. Reports from repair shops and customers suggest that Apple Pencils no longer work properly on non-genuine Apple screens, as they draw squiggly lines on a diagonal instead of straight.

Ricky Panesar, CEO of UK repair firm iCorrect, told Forbes that screens replaced on newer iPad Pros (fifth and sixth-generation 12.9-inch and third and fourth-generation 11-inch models) do not deliver straight lines when an Apple Pencil is used to draw at an angle. "They have a memory chip that sits on the screen that's programmed to only allow the Pencil functionality to work if the screen is connected to the original logic board," Panesar told Forbes.

A Reddit post from May 23 from a user reporting "jittery" diagonal lines from an Apple Pencil on a newly replaced iPad mini screen suggests the issue may affect more than just the Pro line of iPads.

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    Man open-sources the self-repairable AirPods Pro case that Apple won’t make / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 26 July - 19:19

Consumer tech has faced scrutiny over the years around "planned obsolescence": making devices so difficult to repair that shoppers have to buy new products and toss devices sooner than they'd like. Now, one do-it-yourself-er is on a mission to prove that it doesn't have to be this way. And he's starting with the (original) Apple AirPods Pro.

Ken Pillonel is no stranger to tweaking popular designs in the name of user convenience and sensibility. We've covered other projects of his, like a $38 part for making the AirPods Pro case self-serviceable and support USB-C, and adding Apple's Lightning port to a Samsung Galaxy A51 . He has also modded the iPhone to use USB-C .

Today, the technologist revealed his latest concoction: an AirPods Pro case with a user-replaceable battery, USB-C port, and open source designs.

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    How developers will test their apps before Vision Pro launches / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 25 July - 20:36

Developers sit at a Mac with a Vision Pro headset on the table

Enlarge / A promotional image made by Apple to convey what the in-person developer labs for Vision Pro will be like. (credit: Apple)

Apple needs third-party apps for Vision Pro when it launches next year, but most developers don't have the headset yet. That would seem at first glance to be a conundrum, but Apple Monday opened up three different ways app developers can start testing their apps on Vision Pro hardware well before the product launches to the public.

None of them are surprises, of course—Apple previously laid out these plans at WWDC. But now developers can actually start signing up for and using these resources.

It has been possible to get at least some serious work done since Apple made a beta release of Xcode available with support for visionOS. That version of Xcode (Apple's IDE for Macs that is required to build apps for the company's various platforms like iOS) includes a visionOS Simulator that presents work-in-progress visionOS apps in a virtual 3D space navigable with keyboard and mouse or trackpad controls.

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