VoIP-Pal wins federal appeal in ongoing patent battle with Apple

VoIP-Pal on Tuesday won an appeal in the Federal Circuit in its ongoing patent litigation against Apple, meaning that the case will return to the lower courts.

Credit: AppleCredit: Apple

The patent holder initially filed several lawsuits against Apple dating back to 2018 alleging that several of the tech giant’s platforms, such as FaceTime and iMessage, violated its intellectual property. In this specific case, which was dismissed by a California District Court in late 2019, VoIP-Pal alleged infringement of four patents related to voice over IP protocols.

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After getting the date wrong earlier, Siri now knows today is election day

Listen chief, it’s election day in the United States. You know that, I know that. Everyone knows that — and in the off-chance anyone wasn’t clued into the fact, the last few weeks have offered a non-stop barrage of reminders to vote. Today. Tuesday. November 3. 2020.

It seems the last one to find out, however, was Siri. If you happened to greet Apple’s smart assistant with a “Happy Election Day” earlier today, it may well have answered that the big day isn’t until November 8, as pointed out by noted Twitter enthusiast, Lucas Matney.

Image Credits: Kirsten Korosec

Apple has since fixed the issue, though the problem appears to be that Siri jumped the gun here. November 8 is, in fact, election day. Just not this year. November 8, 2022 marks another major election here in the U.S. — namely the midterms, which will no doubt be all sorts of fun and nerve-racking in their own beautiful way. A never-ending source if anxiety, this beautiful thing the ancient Greeks called “democracy.”

Siri notably wasn’t the only one that mixed up their dates. An Instagram cache issue earlier today caused the social media service to suggest to users that “Tomorrow is Election Day.” Which, it’s not. While it seems likely the presidential race will still be up in the air come tomorrow, showing up at your polling place to vote will likely be frowned upon.

Spotify is rolling out standalone streaming for Apple Watch

Spotify is starting to roll out streaming audio support for Apple Watch, meaning users will be able to listen to music or podcasts without an iPhone nearby.

Although Spotify initially launched on watchOS back in 2018, that app was largely limited to playback control of other devices running full-fledged versions of the service.

More recently, however, Spotify in early 2020 began to test direct-to-Apple Watch streaming, enabling content streaming without a partner iPhone.

Technically, the feature is still in beta, but Spotify confirmed to TechCrunch that it is in the midst of “rolling out” as of Tuesday.

The standalone streaming feature will allow users to stream music or podcasts via Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity directly from their wrist to a pair of Bluetooth headphones. That will be useful in cases when carrying an iPhone isn’t convenient, such as during a run.

Although Spotify is beginning to introduce the feature across its user base, it may take some time for standalone streaming to become available to everyone.

Rosenzweig: From Panfrost to production, a tale of Open Source graphics

Rosenzweig: From Panfrost to production, a tale of Open Source graphics
[Development] Posted Nov 3, 2020 21:46 UTC (Tue) by ris

Alyssa Rosenzweig reports on the progress of the Panfrost driver. “Since our previous update on Panfrost, the open source stack for Arm’s Mali Midgard and Bifrost GPUs, we’ve focused on taking our driver from its reverse-engineered origins on Midgard to a mature stack. We’ve overhauled both the Gallium driver and the backend compiler, and as a result, Mesa 20.3 — scheduled for release at the end-of-the-month — will feature some Bifrost support out-of-the-box.

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CVE-2020-26211

In BookStack before version 0.30.4, a user with permissions to edit a page could insert JavaScript code through the use of `javascript:` URIs within a link or form which would run, within the context of the current page, when clicked or submitted. Additionally, a user with permissions to edit a page could insert a particular meta tag which could be used to silently redirect users to a alternative location upon visit of a page. Dangerous content may remain in the database but will be removed before being displayed on a page. If you think this could have been exploited the linked advisory provides a SQL query to test. As a workaround without upgrading, page edit permissions could be limited to only those that are trusted until you can upgrade although this will not address existing exploitation of this vulnerability. The issue is fixed in BookStack version 0.30.4.

Microsoft introduces Apple Silicon support in beta build of Excel for Mac

Microsoft has updated a beta build of Office for Mac to support upcoming but unreleased Apple Silicon devices.

Credit: MicrosoftCredit: Microsoft

Although Apple has yet to release a consumer-facing Apple Silicon device, the company is expected to debut new models with first-party processors at its Nov. 10 “One more thing” event.

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Spotify adds standalone streaming support to its Apple Watch app

Spotify confirmed today it has begun to roll out support for standalone streaming on its Apple Watch app. The feature had been spotted in testing back in September, and arrives roughly two years after Spotify first debuted its dedicated Apple Watch app.

With support for standalone streaming, users can listen to Spotify music or podcasts via a Wi-Fi connection or over cellular, without needing to be tethered to their iPhone.

The lack of support for standalone streaming has been a long time sore subject for a core group of Spotify’s customers. It’s even more of an issue for those who want to leave their iPhone behind when they’re exercising — like when they’re out for a run, for example — as well as any other time when carrying around an iPhone could be cumbersome.

With standalone streaming, however, Spotify users can stream from their wrist directly to their Bluetooth headphones or AirPods.

In the app, the option is still flagged with a beta label for some users, however.

Image Credits: Spotify app, phone via TechCrunch

The update to the Spotify app was spotted in the U.S. by 9to5Mac, which noted more users had started seeing the feature show up for them even though they hadn’t been a part of the September test group.

Spotify is not the first music service to offer a standalone streaming experience on the Apple Watch. In addition to Apple’s own Apple Music service, Pandora rolled out support for standalone streaming back in February 2020.

However, it is ahead of YouTube Music on this front. Although YouTube just launched an Apple Watch version of its streaming music service in mid-October, it works more like a remote control from the YouTube Music app.

Spotify confirmed the launch in statement to TechCrunch, but it hasn’t made a formal announcement about the update.

“We’re focused on developing experiences that enable users to listen to Spotify wherever and whenever they want – regardless of the device or platform,” a Spotify spokesperson said. “After an initial testing period, we are now rolling out streaming capabilities for Spotify on the Apple Watch,” they added.

Gaming rules the entertainment industry, so why aren’t investors showing up?

As gaming’s popularity reaches epic heights, venture investors’ activity in the industry doesn’t seem to equate with the overall size of the games market. Spurred by an unreal year where traditional entertainment has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic and consumers find unity in virtual worlds like Animal Crossing and Fortnite, gaming has never been more popular.

Late-stage investors have shown that they have a tremendous appetite for businesses in the gaming industry. They’ve been pouring capital into established gaming companies like Scopely, which on Wednesday announced a $340 million investment round at a $3.3 billion valuation. But venture capital simply hasn’t given the gaming industry and the broader synthetic market the attention it deserves given its place in the entertainment and cultural firmament.

Just ask LeBron “Bronny” James Jr., the son of the NBA’s biggest star, who became a professional athlete this week — as a gamer with one of the most popular teams in online gaming, FaZe Clan. Or look at Unity, the creator of a popular game development engine, whose stock price has nearly doubled since its public offering in mid-September. Since opening trading at $56 per share, the stock has nearly doubled in value and is now trading at $100 per share.

In the first half of the year gamers spent $36.8 billion on games through both the Android and iOS app stores, according to data from SensorTower. New game installs are also up for the year. The app analytics company said that new game installs were up to 28.4 billion over the first half of the year. Annually the 15 billion new game downloads in the second quarter represented a 45.2% year-on-year growth in gaming.

Then there’s Bitkraft, one of the only venture firms to focus on the totality of the gaming industry, which announced the close of its most recent fund, a $165 million investment vehicle. The firm, which added a former Goldman Sachs managing director earlier in the year to capitalize on the opportunity in what the firm calls “synthetic reality” investments, raised $25 million more than its $140 million target. One of these things is not like the others.

“I’ve been in the games industry for 23 years now [and] I’ve always had this huge fundamental conviction of video games not only dominating the entertainment industry but sort of taking up a big part of what society is — where video games create the digital identities that define evermore of what we understand of ourselves,” said Jens Hilgers, Bitkraft’s founding general partner. “We feel that these are times of acceleration … it’s great to see how we’re leapfrogging one or two or three years of the games industry in this crisis and it makes it more exciting to invest in these times.”

The Unity public offering, and its emphasis on markets outside of gaming, seems to prove Hilgers point and show just how much opportunity remains around the notion of synthetic reality in business and entertainment.

“Their thesis around democratizing access to gaming tools by letting hobbyists use the tools for free is smart, if you want to win the market,” said Alice Lloyd George, founder of Rogue Ventures, a new investment firm focused on frontier technologies and gaming investments.

Lloyd George compared Unity’s business to its biggest competitor, Epic Games, and noted that both have broad aspirations. “Both of them want to use their game engines beyond pure gaming,” Lloyd George said of the two big new gaming platform developers. “Unity is really well-positioned because they’re so strong on mobile. That positions them well for AR and VR. And you need onramps for the developers for AR and VR.”

Engagement and the future of entertainment

When Scopely’s co-chief executive Walter Driver talks about the attraction of gaming properties for players — and the reason investors have been willing to value his Los Angeles-based company in the billions of dollars — he talks about the connections between players. “People have found — and investors looking at the space have found also — that people value the connection they’re getting from interactive experiences. It’s not just our relationship with the players, but their relationships with each other,” Driver said. “Inside of most passively consumed media experiences, you don’t have an identity. You don’t have friends.“

iRobot issues warning for select Roomba i7+ docking stations over potential short circuiting

Robotic vacuum giant iRobot this week sent warnings to select owners of the Roomba i7+, noting that the Clean Base docking station has the potential to malfunction and short circuit. According to iRobot, concern stems from “very rare cases,” wherein liquids are deposited into the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal unit.

“We learned that certain Roomba i7+ Clean Base docking stations could malfunction and potentially present a hazard if liquids are collected by the Roomba i7+ robot vacuum and deposited into the Clean Base unit,” the company said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Our vacuums are only designed for cleaning up dirt and debris from dry floors and carpets and should never be used to pick up any liquids.”

The company believes around 222,000 units are potentially impacted by the issue. Of that number, the vast majority (around 210,000) were sold in North America. Emails and app notifications have been sent to users, alerting them of the problem. The company will send a replacement power cord or docking station to those with affected serial numbers.

The  i7+ was released in 2018. The system sports some key advancements in mapping smarts, along with the impacted docking, which automatically cleans the Roomba’s on-board bin.