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Apple Faces a Well-Armed Enemy in Fortnite Battle Royale – BNN

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(Bloomberg Opinion) — When Apple Inc. opened the App Store in July 2008, it was a $155 billion company selling 12 million iPhones a year. It’s now a nearly $2 trillion company that sells more than 200 million iPhones annually. In the time it took you to read those two sentences, Apple sold 60 handsets.

While the world’s most valuable company has changed, the rules by which it governs the App Store have not. It’s like a 120-pound Great Dane that still thinks it’s a puppy. It has failed to adapt to the outsized role it plays in the smartphone market. A dispute with the makers of the popular Fortnite game app — alongside new Apple antitrust probes by the European Union and the U.S. Department of Justice — brings that failure into the spotlight.

App developers, such as Fortnite’s owner Epic Games Inc., have two complaints. First, Apple takes a 30% cut of any income they make through the App Store (the fee falls to 15% for subscription-based apps after the first 12 months). Second, the App Store is pretty much the only way to get your product onto an iPhone. So unless you’re giving away your app for free, you have to pay Apple to let it onto devices that run its iOS operating system. Developers call this “the Apple Tax.”

This was less troubling when Apple was the challenger in mobile devices. Nokia sold 468 million cell phones in 2008, almost 40 times as many as Apple. Exerting greater control allowed Apple to create a compelling user experience, and if customers or developers didn’t like it, there were plenty of alternatives. Besides, third-party apps were still a relatively new phenomenon on smartphones. In the pre-4G era, mobile devices hadn’t yet replaced so many of the functions of the personal computer.

Today, Apple has a stranglehold on much of the smartphone market but it insists on the same rules. Its defense is “consistency.” This is a bad argument. It used to be illegal in Britain to harbor a Catholic priest, but rules change when they stop making any sense.

Fed up with handing over so much of their cash to the smartphone operating system owners, Fortnite has manufactured a standoff with Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google (which operates its own app store for Android devices). The games developer, in which Tencent Holdings Ltd. has a 40% stake, says it will stop paying Apple and Google any slice of revenue. The Silicon Valley giants responded, as Epic surely knew they would, by dropping its app from their stores.

Google has been in Europe’s antitrust cross hairs for quite some time now but Apple warrants scrutiny too for the squeeze if puts on independent app developers, as my colleague Tae Kim has written. Facebook Inc., a frequent target of opprobrium from Apple Chief Executive Office Tim Cook, joined in the criticism on Friday.

Apple’s refusal to compromise is part of the intransigence that characterizes the company, but there’s something else too: It has never encountered a serious antitrust reckoning. Maybe it believes it’s bulletproof. 

Just last week, a beta version of its next operating system for mobile and desktop devices demonstrated Apple’s plans to redirect news-story readers clicking on a link on a web browser to its News app, and away from news organizations’ own websites. That seems characteristic of a company that isn’t thinking seriously about whether its behavior could be deemed anti-competitive.

Apple says its marketplace incurs costs that need to be covered. But if it’s convinced that its App Store store guarantees the best experience, maybe it should let competing stores also operate on its devices. Then users can decide for themselves. Perhaps the best response to accusations of anti-competitiveness is to introduce competition.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe’s technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Ranchman's seized memorabilia returning to owners | CTV News – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
The saddles seized by the bank from Ranchman’s closure will find their way back to their rightful owners.

That was the message delivered Friday by realtor Rob Campbell, who is looking for a tenant for Ranchman’s, the iconic Calgary cookhouse on Macleod Trail that shut its doors for good last Saturday.

Last Sunday, Campbell revealed, in an interview with CTV News, that all of the memorabilia inside the club, which belonged to several generations of cowboys, had been seized by the bailiff, despite the fact that all of it was on loan from members of the western rodeo community. Many of those individual were crowned champions and allowed their personal treasures to be put on display inside the bar in exchange for a tab and priority entrance.

“When they called the note, they send in a bailiff and the bailiff comes through and basically puts everything on a list,” said Campbell. “We gave them a list of things we thought would be excluded, but until they got proper backup, legal documentation, everything was seized.”

That meant a treasure trove of rodeo paraphaenalia was taken from the restaurant, he said.

“There’s saddles, there’s buckles, spurs,” he said. “Outfits from rodeo princesses. There’s bronzes.

“All kinds of different things,” he added, “That comprise a mini-museum of rodeo history – and we were lucky to have that (on display in Ranchman’s) for the last 45 years.

“People entrusted these things to us,” he said, “And we felt it was incumbent on us to make sure they got it back.”

The effort was greatly aided by Kahane Law, Campbell said, which lent its legal expertise to the effort, and to the Bank of Montreal, which was willing to hand back the seized saddles.

Memorabilia

The heroes, Campbell added, included a former employee named Wendy Daniels, who worked at Ranchman’s for 38 years, and was the person who managed all of the rodeo memorabilia and bar tabs.

She was no longer employed by Ranchman’s at the time the bank foreclosed on the property, Campbell said, but then she heard about the saddle seizure.

“(She) called right away,” Campbell said, “And said, ‘Look, I was a part of bringing these things in and I’ve got to be a part of getting them back to folks.'”

Memorabilia

Daniels, Campbell added, has been downstairs in the club – all the saddles are still inside – tracking down family members and letting them know their stuff is safe, and that it will be returned to them.

“She deserves a ton of credit,” Campbell said.

The irony of the saddle seizure, Campbell added, is that all that old western leather isn’t really worth anything – except to the families whose loved ones sweated and strained and sometimes got clobbered over – for years.

Memorabilia

“It’s not worth anything if you were to take it to auction,” he said. “You might find a collector who wants to pick up a piece here and there, but it’s not worth a lot of money.

“It’s worth everything,” he added, “To cowboys and cowgirls that earned it.”

Rob Campbell

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Ring’s Traffic Stop feature is about bringing more accountability to policing – The Verge

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On Thursday, Ring, the home security subsidiary of Amazon, released a new dashcam embedded with a novel feature called “Traffic Stop” that could help bring more accountability to policing. That could be a powerful thing, especially as tens of millions of people have poured onto the streets in cities across the country to demonstrate against systemic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality. It could also be a privacy nightmare.

The Ring Car Cam, which will cost $199, has two cameras: one pointed out the front windshield and one that points toward the car’s interior. The camera can send alerts whenever an event such as a break-in, towing, or accident is detected, and owners can tap into the cameras’ feeds to see what’s happening. The Car Cam relies on either Wi-Fi or LTE for connectivity.

But the most interesting feature is Traffic Stop. All a driver needs to do is say “Alexa, I’m being pulled over” to trigger the cameras to start recording and save their footage to the cloud. At the same time, a notification will be sent to a list of emergency contacts specified by the user during initial setup, informing them of the traffic stop.

Essentially, what Ring has created is a tool for “traffic stop counter-surveillance,” said Elizabeth Joh, a professor of law at UC-Davis and an expert on policing, technology, and surveillance.

“In policing, technology is all about power,” Joh told The Verge. “Redistributing that power can be an important means of police accountability.”

There’s nothing particularly new about using dashcams as a means of recording traffic stops, but the novelty of Ring’s Traffic Stop feature is that it automates the process, Joh said.

“We’ve always been able to pull out our phones… and try to record it,” she said. “But by embedding it in the landscape of our cars, by simply just saying ‘I’ve been pulled over,’ makes that recording much more likely.”

That’s especially meaningful when you consider that police body cameras can be unreliable, hard to obtain, or subjective in what they capture. “Easily recording a traffic stop from a driver’s perspective is going to be able, in theory, to give us an important part of what’s happening in these encounters that sometimes go badly wrong,” Joh added.

And if people are willing to share the footage from their traffic stop with academic researchers, that can be incredibly useful for better understanding excessive force and police violence during traffic stops.

But there are also privacy implications. After all, it’s a camera that sits on your dashboard and sends video, audio, and perhaps GPS information to the cloud. Passengers in vehicles equipped with the Ring Car Cam may not be able to consent to being filmed before the device starts recording. And Ring as a company has been criticized for sharing data with police departments without informing their customers.

“What if the prompt is used for bad purposes?” Joh asks. “Say you’re not actually being pulled over or someone just wants to record you. And if the traffic stop video has embarrassing information, it’s in the cloud.”

She added, “There are good questions about who has access to that information. And I’m not just talking about the police, but somebody who works at Ring. Do they just get to watch it?” (A spokesperson for the company did not respond to a request for comment.)

Ring has said the most important thing about the Car Cam is access to the footage. While many dashcams include a removable SD card, Ring’s camera automatically uploads the footage to the cloud, giving customers more immediate access to what was recorded.

“The most important thing in these situations is to make sure that you have the video and so we’ll be streaming the video from the Car Cam to the cloud in real time,” Ring’s head of mobile products, Nathan Ackerman, told CNET.

As for who else should have access to that footage, Ring is still working through those questions. “We’re working through some of the ins and outs of exactly when the [emergency contacts] get notified, whether they can jump in and view the live stream or if it’ll be available after the fact,” Ackerman said.

These will be important questions for Ring to answer, especially if it hopes to win over people who are aware of the company’s controversial partnerships with police departments.

“I think for privacy-minded and civil liberties-minded consumers, they’re going to be really skeptical about whether or not Ring has some other purpose or agenda in mind in making this video capturing really easy,” Joh said. “But maybe that’s beside the point, because if Ring doesn’t do it, I think it was inevitable that another technology company was going to do it.”

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The 4 reasons Ring thinks you’ll trust its flying camera

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At first glance, it’s a tough ask: allow Amazon-owned Ring to fly a mini drone carrying a camera around your house, all in the name of security. Ring Always Home Cam was undoubtedly the weirdest of the announcements at yesterday’s big Amazon Fall hardware event, but while it may seem like an Onion gag the security firm insists it’s headed to your living room in 2021.

Reactions were, as you could probably expect, mixed. Some people instantly loved the idea of a camera that wasn’t limited to the traditional pan, tilt, and zoom we’re familiar with from existing security systems, instead being able to move the lens to where it’s actually needed.

[embedded content]

Others, though, weren’t so convinced. After all, the prospect of an extension of Amazon’s AI taking flight around your home requires a fair degree of trust, and there are plenty of people who aren’t all that comfortable at the thought of cohabiting with a fixed connected camera. Ask Ring, though, and there are four good reasons why you shouldn’t’ be worried about Ring Always Home Cam.

You tell Ring Always Home Cam where to fly

Although we’ve seen drones get increasingly smart, and develop autopilot systems, Ring’s flying camera errs on the dumber side – and that’s by design. Although it has features like obstacle avoidance, to stop it from colliding with unexpected objects, the actual flight plan is all preset. Indeed, you set that up when you first take the Ring Always Home Cam out of the box.

Each flight path is established from day one. So, if you don’t want the camera to go into your bathroom or bedroom, you can make sure they’re off-limits.

You’ll always hear Ring Always Home Cam coming

If you do find yourself in a room where the flying camera can roam, you shouldn’t ever be surprised by it. “We even designed Always Home Cam to hum at a certain volume,” Ring explains, “so it’s clear the camera is in motion and is recording. This is privacy you can hear.”

Drones generally aren’t quiet things when in operation: after all, having multiple rotors, even little ones, make some noise. If anything, the flying camera is undoubtedly more easily spotted when it’s in action compared to a traditional, fixed camera. They usually only have an LED to show they’re active.

Ring Always Home Cam can’t be piloted manually

Should the flying camera spot something while you’re not home, you’ll be notified in the Ring app. What you can’t do, however, is log in remotely and pilot the Ring Always Home Cam using manual controls. Unlike a traditional remote-control drone, there’s no way to manually operate it.

Again, that’s by design. “It cannot be manually controlled,” Ring points out, “ensuring that it will only record and see what is important to you.” Of course, that also means that you’ll want to think carefully about where you do set up the preset flight paths, since the camera won’t be able to stray from those areas.

When Ring Always Home Cam lands, it’s blind

Adding to the “you’ll always know when it’s recording” reassurance is the nature of the drone camera’s dock. When the Ring Always Home Cam lands, the camera isn’t just switched off, it’s fully enclosed. “The device rests in the base and the camera is physically blocked when docked,” Ring explains. “The camera will only start recording when the device leaves the base and starts flying via one of the preset paths.”

Even if someone could hack it to turn on while it was landed, all they’d be able to see would be the dark insides of the docking station itself. To change that, it would have to take off, and then you’d hear it. Plus, Ring is delivering end-to-end encryption later this year to further minimize the potential for unwanted app intruders.

Clearly, there’s still some way to go before the idea of a $250 flying security camera is palatable to everyone. As ideas go, however, Ring’s design is a little less creepy than it might first sound. Whether that will translate to actual sales when the Ring Always Home Cam takes flight next year remains to be seen.

Source:- SlashGear

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