AWT News Update: September 29, 2017

A poppin'-open iPhone 8, anyone?

A poppin'-open iPhone 8, anyone?

Friday is usually a quiet day in the tech news business, and today -- the last weekday of September -- is no exception. We have a few short stories to end your week:

  • We've had antenna-gate and bend-gate in the past, could the iPhone 8 be introducing "split-gate" to the vernacular?
  • Thousands of Macs in a study sample were found to have the wrong EFI code, something that's troubling security researchers
  • Requests for information on Apple users by the US Government have doubled since last year
  • Be sure to check out AWT's reviews of the Apple TV 4K and Apple Watch Series 3 today

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for September 29, 2017. Apple World Today has been sponsored for the past week by Mellel, the Mac and iPad word processor app for people who write for a living. Find out more and get a free trial of Mellel at mellel.com. 

It wouldn’t be that time of year when new iPhones are delivered without some sort of “crisis”. We’ve had antenna-gate and bend-gate in the past, now we may be seeing “split-gate”. Well, it’s not too bad so far, but Apple’s looking at two situations where an iPhone 8 has split wide open, popping the display off. In the first situation in Taiwan, an iPhone 8 was being charged with the official cable and power adapter that ships with the handset. It had been in use for five days and was plugged in to be charged when the split occurred about three minutes into charging. In the second case in Japan, an iPhone 8 was popped apart when the owner opened up the box. It will be interesting to see if these are just isolated instances or more widespread. 

Duo Labs does security research, and went to look at 73,000 Macs to gather three years of data to determine if the computers were running the proper firmware, in this case the extensible firmware interface or EFI code that takes care of a Mac’s pre-boot processes. What they found was a 4.2 percent deviation from the expected norm, which means that there were thousands of machines that were running unexpected versions of EFI firmware. Rich Smith, Duo’s director of R&D, said “There shouldn’t be any deviance ever. But there is, and in some cases it is quite significant.”

In the first part of 2017, Apple says that it has received more than 13,000 requests for information from the U.S. government. The requests affect more than 9,000 individual accounts, although Apple can’t say exactly how many requests were received. This number is about double of that seen in the second half of 2016, with most requests coming in the form of National Security Letters under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

The Apple World Today reviews of the Apple TV 4K and Apple Watch Series 3 are both out today, so be sure to visit the website and see what we have to say about two of Apple’s most recent product releases. 

That’s it for this rather quiet Friday. We’ll see you next month on Monday, October 2nd with another edition of the AWT News Update.