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November 17, 2016

Apple Patent Reveals Siri-Assisted iMessage P2P Payments Platform

Apple has filed a patent application for a “virtual assistant in a communication session.” On first glance, application 14/713,410 might scare developers of chat bots and the like, but Apple is specific in the scope of their claims – Siri, their virtual assistant platform, will be able to directly communicate with either user in an iMessage conversation and then be able to act on the instructions given. The other participant of the conversation will not see messages intended to Siri, nor messages sent from Siri to the user activating her. This is somewhat different from current implementations of chat bots and virtual assistants in chat programs, in that the classical chat bot for, [...]

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November 30, 2015

Prison Phone Profiteer Securus Granted Robocalling Patent

Readers may recall our story earlier this month about Securus, a leading prison telephony provider, being hacked and how the hackers discovered that the company was recording thousands of privileged communications that lawyers had with inmates. The Intercept had received the tip-off, along with the calls, and reported on the subject. Securus defended itself by saying that these lawyers must not have registered their phone numbers with the “service.”

Now, in a most trollish move, the company has been granted a patent for contacting your relatives when you’re in jail and asking them if they want to pay for your calls or not. They call this “initiating a campaign to [...]

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November 25, 2015

You Don’t Really Own Your Hardware: The War on Electronics Repair

The ways that companies like Apple try to extract more cash from their customer base are many. The notion of planned obsolescence is defined by the Oxford dictionary like so:

A policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design, termination of the supply of spare parts, and the use of nondurable materials.

The dictionary definition obviously doesn’t cover it all, but suffice it to say that releasing a new model every year with improvements only sufficient to make older models not capable of running updates is one good example. But getting customers to buy new hardware is not the only way [...]

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