Apple Sued for Intentionally Slowing iPhone Performance

Today’s topics include a lawsuit against Apple for distributing software updates that slowed down iPhones; Alphabet's announcement that Eric Schmidt is stepping down as executive chairman; the Guardian Project's Haven personal privacy app; and the launch of Microsoft's Adaptive Application Controls that use artificial intelligence to secure Windows cloud instances.

After Apple admitted intentionally slowing down older iPhone 6, 6S, 7 and SE models, attorneys for the Wilshire Law Firm in Los Angeles filed a class action suit Dec. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleging Apple has breached an implied contract.

The lawsuit alleges that rather than explaining to users how the company wanted to solve technical issues within the phones and convincing users to opt into the updates, Apple instead substantially affected iPhones without permission.

The lawsuit is asking the court to provide relief to members of the class, which consists of all iPhone users who have ever owned an iPhone prior to the iPhone 8. The requested relief includes requiring Apple to stop slowing down iPhones and financial restitution for the loss of use of the phones, for new batteries and other damages.

Google parent Alphabet has announced that Eric Schmidt is stepping down from his role as executive chairman of Alphabet. Starting January 2018, Schmidt will transition to the role of technical adviser at Alphabet and will continue as a corporate board member.

Alphabet's board will most likely appoint a nonexecutive chairman in place of Schmidt. During nearly 17 years of service, Schmidt is credited with playing an important role in transforming Google from a brash young startup to a global behemoth.

Schmidt was hired as CEO of Google in 2001 shortly after the dot-com bubble had burst and Google itself was a 200-person company. The company today has more than 61,000 employees and processes about 3.5 billion searches daily. Alphabet has not said how soon it expects to appoint a successor to Schmidt.

A new mobile app called "Haven" and backed by Edward Snowden has reached the market to help Android device users protect their personal privacy. Snowden is currently the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that helps build tools and awareness to support journalists and whistle-blowers around the world.

The Haven app was developed in partnership with the Guardian Project, which is building a set of open-source secure apps to protect privacy and personal security.

"The concept of Haven … is that any smartphone could be turned into a personal, portable security device, to watch for unexpected intrusions into physical spaces," said Guardian project founder Nathan Freitas. Haven uses existing sensors and capabilities of Android phones to help users detect potential surveillance risks.

Microsoft has launched a public beta of its new Adaptive Application Controls for Windows virtual machines running on the company's Azure cloud-computing platform. The service allows users to apply whitelisting techniques to their server instances that block unauthorized or potentially malware-ridden software.

Microsoft Senior Product Manager Ben Kliger said the service lowers an instance's attack surface by blocking all applications except the ones that are known to be safe, allowing organizations to spend less time on the lookout for exploits and cyber-security threats.

The new capabilities also use artificial intelligence technology to relieve IT administration burdens.