Virgin Orbit reaches orbit for the first time

Virgin Orbit launched its LauncherOne rocket to orbit for the first time today, with a successful demonstration mission that carried a handful of satellites and will attempt to deliver them to low Earth orbit on behalf of NASA. It’s a crucial milestone for the small satellite launch company, and the first time the company has shown that its hybrid carrier aircraft/small payload orbital delivery rocket works as intended, which should set the company up to begin commercial operations of its launch system very soon.

This is the second attempt at reaching orbit for Virgin Orbit, after a first try in late May ended with the LauncherOne rocket initiating an automatic safety shutdown of its engines shortly after detaching from the ‘Cosmic Girl’ carrier aircraft, a modified Boeing 747 that transports the rocket to its launch altitude. The company said that it learned a lot from that attempt, including identifying the error that caused the failsafe engine shut down, which it corrected in advance of today’s mission.

Virgin’s Cosmic Girl took off at just before 2 PM EDT, and then released LauncherOne from its wing at roughly 2:40 PM EDT. LauncherOne had a “clean separation” as intended, and then ignited its own rocket engines and quickly accelerated to the point where it was undergoing the maximum amount of aerodynamic pressure (called max q in the aerospace industry). LauncherOne’s main engine then cut off after its burn, and its payload stage separated, crossing the Karman line and entering space for the first time.

It achieved orbit at around 2:49 PM EDT, and will release its payload of small satellites in roughly 30 minutes. We’ll update this post to provide the results of this part of its mission later, but this is already a major milestone and huge achievement for the Virgin Orbit team.

Virgin Orbit’s unique value proposition in the small launch market is that it can take off and land from traditional runways thanks to its carrier aircraft and mid-air rocket launch approach. That should provide flexibility in terms of launch locations, allowing it to be more responsive to customer needs in terms of geographies and target orbital deliveries.

In 2017, Virgin Orbit was spun out of Virgin Galactic, to focus exclusively on small payload orbital launch. Virgin Galactic then devoted itself entirely to its own mission of offering commercial human spaceflight. Virgin Orbit itself create its own subsidiary earlier this year, called VOX Space, which intends to use LauncherOne to deliver small satellites to orbit specifically for the U.S. national security market.

Prototype iPhone 5s shown in black and slate gray colors

A prototype of the iPhone 5s has surfaced with an unusual slate grey backing, a darker color scheme that may have been used to disguise the iPhone model ahead of its launch.

Unveiled by Apple in September 2013 and accompanied by the iPhone 5c, the iPhone 5s was offered to the public in a choice of three color schemes. However, new images suggest Apple may have considered another option, one it ended up using on pre-release devices.

Images shared by @DongleBookPro on Twitter show what is identified as an “iPhone 5s Prototype.” The device is shown to bear fake regulatory details on the rear, indicating it isn’t a version intended for release to the public.

The images show Apple went to some lengths to disguise the device, including the use of a much darker “slate gray” back cover, as well as a matte top and base section instead of a glossy version. It is said that this and other minor alterations made the prototype seem similar to the iPhone 5’s physical styling.

The pictured model is also said to have been manufactured in December 2012, a few months after Apple launched the iPhone 5.

Sporting a 4-inch display and the A7 SoC, the iPhone 5s was offered in a choice of three color options: Space Gray with glossy black sections, Gold with white, and Silver with white.

GitHub’s head of HR resigns in light of termination of Jewish employee

A GitHub internal investigation has revealed the company made “significant errors of judgment and procedure” in the firing of the Jewish employee who cautioned his coworkers about the presence of Nazis in the DC area on the day of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a blog post today, GitHub COO Erica Brescia said the company’s head of HR took full responsibility for what happened and resigned from the company yesterday.

“In light of these findings, we immediately reversed the decision to separate with the employee and are in communication with his representative,” Brescia said in the blog post. “To the employee we wish to say publicly: we sincerely apologize.”

On the day a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, a worried GitHub employee warned his co-workers in the D.C. area to be safe.

After making a comment in Slack saying, “stay safe homies, Nazis are about,” a fellow employee took offense, saying that type of rhetoric wasn’t good for work, the former employee previously told me. Two days later, he was fired, with a human relations representative citing a “pattern of behavior that is not conducive to company policy” as the rationale for his termination, he told me.

In an interview with TechCrunch earlier this week, the now-former employee said he was genuinely concerned about his co-workers in the area, in addition to his Jewish family members. During that interview, he said he would not be interested in getting his job back, but would be interested in other forms of reconciliation.

Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12 is on sale at Amazon right now

Those putting off picking up a MagSafe Charger for the latest iPhone can now save 8% on the popular accessory, with units in stock at Amazon.

MagSafe Charger on sale

It’s rare to see a discount on the MagSafe Charger that debuted in Late 2020, but Amazon is currently knocking 8% off the iPhone 12 accessory while supplies last.

When paired with this 20W USB-C Power Adapter (sold separately), users can take advantage of MagSafe wireless charging up to 15W for faster charging compared to the iPhone 12’s maximum 7.5W Qi charging capability. MagSafe is also compatible with the Qi standard so you can charge your AirPods Pro with ease too.

At press time, Amazon states the MagSafe chargers are in stock and ready to ship. Wondering if MagSafe is right for you? Check out AppleInsider’s in-depth guide to MagSafe technology.

Apple MagSafe Charger sale button

Plus deals on Macs, AirPods

Best Apple Prices

AppleInsider and Apple authorized resellers are also running additional exclusive discounts on hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in bonus savings on AppleCare, software and more. Here are some of the promotions:

Threat of inauguration violence casts a long shadow over social media

As the U.S. heads into one of the most perilous phases of American democracy since the Civil War, social media companies are scrambling to shore up their patchwork defenses for a moment they appear to have believed would never come.

Most major platforms pulled the emergency break last week, deplatforming the president of the United States and enforcing suddenly robust rules against conspiracies, violent threats and undercurrents of armed insurrection, all of which proliferated on those services for years. But within a week’s time, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google had all made historic decisions in the name of national stability — and appearances. Snapchat, TikTok, Reddit and even Pinterest took their own actions to prevent a terror plot from being hatched on their platforms.

Now, we’re in the waiting phase. More than a week after a deadly pro-Trump riot invaded the iconic seat of the U.S. legislature, the internet still feels like it’s holding its breath, a now heavily-fortified inauguration ceremony looming ahead.

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

What’s still out there

On the largest social network of all, images hyping follow-up events continued to circulate mid this week. One digital Facebook flyer promoted an “armed march on Capitol Hill and all state Capitols,” pushing the dangerous and false conspiracy that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Facebook says that it’s working to identify flyers calling for “Stop the Steal” adjacent events using digital fingerprinting, the same process it uses to remove terrorist content from ISIS and Al Qaeda. The company noted that it has seen flyers calling for events on January 17 across the country, January 18 in Virginia and inauguration day in D.C.

At least some of Facebook’s new efforts are working: one popular flyer TechCrunch observed on the platform was removed from some users’ feeds this week. A number of “Stop the Steal” groups we’d observed over the last month also unceremoniously blinked offline early this week following more forceful action from the company. Still, given the writing on the wall, many groups had plenty of time to tweak their names by a few words or point followers elsewhere to organize.

With only days until the presidential transition, acronym-heavy screeds promoting QAnon, an increasingly mainstream collection of outrageous pro-Trump government conspiracy theories, also remain easy to find. On one page with 2,500 followers, a QAnon believer pushed the debunked claim that anti-fascists executed the attack on the Capitol, claiming “January 6 was a trap.”

QAnon sign

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On a different QAnon group, an ominous post from an admin issued Congress a warning: “We have found a way to end this travesty! YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED!” The elaborate conspiracy’s followers were well represented at the deadly riot at the Capitol, as the many giant “Q” signs and esoteric t-shirt slogans made clear.

In a statement to TechCrunch about the state of extremism on the platform, Facebook says it is coordinating with terrorism experts as well as law enforcement “to prevent direct threats to public safety.” The company also noted that it works with partners to stay aware of violent content taking root on other platforms.

Facebook’s efforts are and late and uneven, but they’re also more than the company has done to date. Measures from big social networks coupled with the absence of far-right social networks like Parler and Gab have left Trump’s most ardent supporters once again swearing off Silicon Valley and fanning out for an alternative.

Social media migration

Private messaging apps Telegram and Signal are both seeing an influx of users this week, but they offer something quite different from a Facebook or Twitter-like experience. Some expert social network observers see the recent migration as seasonal rather than permanent.

“The spike in usage of messaging platforms like Telegram and Signal will be temporary,” Yonder CEO Jonathon Morgan told TechCrunch. “Most users will either settle on platforms with a social experience, like Gab, MeWe, or Parler, if it returns, or will migrate back to Twitter and Facebook.”

That company uses AI to track how social groups connect and what they talk about, conspiracies included. Morgan believes that propaganda-spreading “performative internet warriors” make a lot of noise online, but a performance doesn’t work without an audience:

“The different types of engagement we saw during the assault on the Capitol mirror how these groups have fragmented online. We saw a large mob who was there to cheer on the extremists but didn’t enter the Capitol, performative internet warriors taking selfies, and paramilitaries carrying flex cuffs (mislabeled as “zip ties” in a lot of social conversation), presumably ready to take hostages.

“Most users (the mob) will be back on Parler if it returns, and in the meantime, they are moving to other apps that mimic the social experience of Twitter and Facebook, like MeWe.”

Still, Morgan says research shows “deplatforming ” extremists and conspiracy-spreaders is an effective strategy and efforts by “tech companies from Airbnb to AWS” will reduce the chances of violence in the coming days.

Cleaning up platforms can help turn the masses away from dangerous views, Morgan said, but the same efforts might further galvanize people with an existing intense commitment to those beliefs. With the winds shifting, already heterogeneous groups will be scattered too, making their efforts desperate and less predictable.

Deplatforming works, with risks

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told TechCrunch that social media companies still need to do much more to prepare for inauguration week. “We saw platforms fall short in their response to the Capitol insurrection,” Greenblatt said.

He cautioned that while many changes are necessary, we should be ready for online extremism to evolve into a more fractured ecosystem. Echo chambers may become smaller and louder, even as the threat of “large scale” coordinated action diminishes.

“The fracturing has also likely pushed people to start communicating with each other via encrypted apps and other private means, strengthening the connections between those in the chat and providing a space where people feel safe openly expressing violent thoughts, organizing future events, and potentially plotting future violence,” Greenblatt said.

By their own standards, social media companies have taken extraordinary measures in the U.S. in the last two weeks. But social networks have a long history of facilitating violence abroad, even as attention turns to political violence in America.

Greenblatt repeated calls for companies to hire more human moderators, a suggestion often made by experts focused on extremism. He believes social media could still take other precautions for inauguration week, like introducing a delay into livestreams or disabling them altogether, bolstering rapid response teams and suspending more accounts temporarily rather than focusing on content takedowns and handing out “strikes.”

“Platforms have provided little-to-nothing in the way of transparency about learnings from last week’s violent attack in the Capitol,” Greenblatt said.

“We know the bare minimum of what they ought to be doing and what they are capable of doing. If these platforms actually provided transparency and insights, we could offer additional—and potentially significantly stronger—suggestions.”

Signal app recovers from outage caused by new user flood

Privacy-focused messaging app Signal is back online after an outage lasting more than 24 hours, an extended downtime caused by a large rush of users switching to the app.

Late on Saturday night, Signal posted to Twitter that it was operational once again. Expressing the news using a gif from the movie “Rocky,” the app claimed it had “learned a lot since yesterday,” as well as thanking the “millions of new Signal users” for their patience.

“Your capacity for understanding inspired us while we expanded capacity,” the tweet concluded.

The tweet was posted after a lengthy downtime period that went on for more than one day, prompted by a lack of capacity on the app’s servers to manage the sudden influx of users. Signal advised of its technical difficulties on Friday, the followed up with regular updates explaining its teams were working to get the app “up and running” as soon as possible.

“We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week nonstop, but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections,” one update tweet read. Another explained existing users may “see errors in some of their chats,” indicating a message was missed from a contact rather than any issues with chat security.

While unconfirmed, it is likely that the sudden swelling of user numbers was caused by a few factors. While the Parler takedown may have caused some to move over to the end-to-end encrypted platform, a change in WhatsApp’s privacy policy may have also been the trigger.

According to The Register, WhatsApp wanted to enable businesses to communicate with users via the chat app, forcing an update in the privacy policy. It seems that text in the update relating to how WhatsApp user details could be used by parent company Facebook and subsidiaries may have spooked some users away from WhatsApp in favor of a more privacy-focused home.

Facebook and WhatsApp have since delayed the implementation of its privacy policy change until May.

AG Paxton’s misleading attack on our ad tech business

Myth: Google “dominates the online advertising landscape for image-based web display ads.”
Fact: The ad tech industry is incredibly crowded and competitive.

Competition in online advertising has made ads more affordable and relevant, reduced ad tech fees, and expanded options for publishers and advertisers.

The online advertising space is famously crowded. We compete with household names like Adobe, Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Facebook, Oracle, Twitter and Verizon. Facebook, for example, is the largest seller of display ads and Amazon last month surpassed us as the preferred ad buying platform for advertisers. We compete fiercely with those companies and others such as Mediaocean, Amobee, MediaMath, Centro, Magnite, The Trade Desk, Index Exchange, OpenX, PubMatic and countless more. A growing number of retail brands such as Walmart, Walgreens, Best Buy, Kroger and Target are also offering their own ad tech.

Myth: Google “extracts a very high … percent of the ad dollars otherwise flowing to online publishers.”
Fact: Our fees are actually lower than reported industry averages.

Our ad tech fees are lower than reported industry averages. Publishers keep about 70 percent of the revenue when using our products, and for some types of advertising, publishers keep even more—that’s more money in publishers’ pockets to fund their creation of high-quality content.

Myth: We created an alternative to header bidding that “secretly stacks the deck in Google’s favor.”
Fact: We created Open Bidding to address the drawbacks of header bidding.

Header bidding refers to running an auction among multiple ad exchanges for given ad space. You won’t read this in AG Paxton’s complaint, but the technology has real drawbacks: Header bidding auctions take place within the browser, on your computer or mobile phone, so they require the device to use more data in order to work. This can lead to problems like webpages taking longer to load and device batteries draining faster. And the multilayered complexity of header bidding can lead to fraud and other problems that can artificially increase prices for advertisers, as well as billing discrepancies that can hurt publisher revenue.

So we created an alternative to header bidding, called Open Bidding, which runs within the ad server instead of on your device. This solves many of the problems associated with header bidding. Open Bidding provides publishers access to demand from dozens of networks and exchanges. This helps increase demand for publisher inventory and competition for ad space, which enables publishers to drive more revenue. In fact, our data shows that publishers who decide to use Open Bidding on Ad Manager typically see double-digit revenue increases across our partners and exchange—and they can measure this for themselves. 

Additionally, our publisher platform has always integrated with header bidding, so publishers have the choice to use their preferred bidding solution. Publishers can and do bring bids from non-Google header bidding tools into our platform.

Since we launched Open Bidding, traditional header bidding has continued to grow. In fact, a recent survey shows about 90 percent of publishers currently use header bidding for desktop and 60 percent use header bidding for mobile in-app or in-stream video. Amazon also launched an entirely new competitive header bidding solution, which uses the same server-side approach that we do. Header bidding is an evolving and growing space—and now, as a result of our work, there are alternatives to header bidding that improve the user experience.

Myth: Our Open Bidding agreement with Facebook harms publishers.
Fact: Facebook is one of over 25 partners in Open Bidding, and their participation actually helps publishers.

AG Paxton also makes misleading claims about Facebook’s participation in our Open Bidding program.  Facebook Audience Network (FAN)’s involvement isn’t a secret. In fact, it was well-publicized and FAN is one of over 25 partners participating in Open Bidding. Our agreement with FAN simply enables them (and the advertisers they represent) to participate in Open Bidding. Of course we want FAN to participate because the whole goal of Open Bidding is to work with a range of ad networks and exchanges to increase demand for publishers’ ad space, which helps those publishers earn more revenue. FAN’s participation helps that. But to be clear, Open Bidding is still an extremely small part of our ad tech business, accounting for less than 4 percent of the display ads we place.

AG Paxton inaccurately claims that we manipulate the Open Bidding auction in FAN’s favor. We absolutely don’t. FAN must make the highest bid to win a given impression. If another eligible network or exchange bids higher, they win the auction. FAN’s participation in Open Bidding doesn’t prevent Facebook from participating in header bidding or any other similar system. In fact, FAN participates in several similar auctions on rival platforms.

And AG Paxton’s claims about how much we charge other Open Bidding partners are mistaken—our standard revenue share for Open Bidding is 5-10 percent.

Myth: AMP was designed to hurt header bidding.
Fact: AMP was designed in partnership with publishers to improve the mobile web.

AG Paxton’s claims about AMP and header bidding are just false. Engineers at Google designed AMP in partnership with publishers and other tech companies to help webpages load faster and improve the user experience on mobile devices—not to harm header bidding.

AMP supports a range of monetization options, including header bidding. Publishers are free to use both AMP and header bidding technologies together if they choose. The use of header bidding doesn’t factor into publisher search rankings. 

Myth: We force partners to use Google tools.
Fact: Partners can readily use our tools and other technologies side by side. 

This claim isn’t accurate either. Publishers and advertisers often use multiple technologies simultaneously. In fact, surveys show the average large publisher uses six different platforms to sell ads on its site, and plans to use even more this year. And the top 100 advertisers use an average of four or more platforms to buy ads.

All of this is why we build our technologies to be interoperable with more than 700 rival platforms for advertisers and 80 rival platforms for publishers.

AG Paxton’s complaint talks about the idea that we offer tools for both advertisers and publishers as if that’s unusual or problematic. But that reflects a lack of knowledge of the online ads industry, where serving both advertisers and publishers is actually commonplace. Many firms with competing ad tech businesses, such as AT&T, Amazon, Twitter, Verizon, Comcast and others, offer ad platforms and tools like ours that cater to both advertisers and publishers. We don’t require either advertisers or publishers to use our whole “stack,” and many don’t. Ultimately, advertisers and publishers can choose what works best for their needs.

Myth: “Google uses privacy concerns to advantage itself.”
Fact: Consumers expect us to secure their data—and we do.

AG Paxton misrepresents our privacy initiatives. We’re committed to operating our advertising business in a way that gives people transparency into and control over how their data is used. Consumers also increasingly expect, and data privacy laws require, strict controls over ad tracking tools like cookies and ad identifiers. So we’re focused on meeting those expectations and requirements. As we do so, we’ve created privacy-protecting solutions that enable other ad tech companies to continue to operate and introduced an open and collaborative industry initiative called the Privacy Sandbox, which is working on alternatives to cookies that preserve privacy while protecting free content. Other web browsers have likewise taken similar steps to limit the use of cookies and protect user privacy.

Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses social reform initiative and Parler in interview

Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the social responsibility of tech platforms and the potential return of Parler in a new interview.

The ongoing battle between platform owners and hate speech rolls on, with Apple continuing to be deeply involved after it made the decision to remove Parler from the App Store for severe moderation failures.

In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Cook reiterates Apple’s stance on the matter and talks about the company’s new Racial Justice initiative.

Cook on Parler

In an earlier interview Cook said that Parler could return to the App Store once it begins to follow Apple’s Terms of Service, and reiterates the same in Sunday’s aired interview.

Wallace asked if Apple and other technology companies are restricting free speech. Cook points out that the App Store is a private platform with its own rules.

“We have an app store that has about 2 million apps in it. And we have terms of services for these apps, ” Cook responded.

“We obviously don’t control what’s on the internet, but we’ve never viewed that our platform should be a simple replication of the internet,” he continued. “We have rules and regulations, and we just ask that people abide by those.”

The $100 million Racial Justice initiative

Wallace asked Cook what it is about race that brought this to the top of Apple’s agenda.

“Last year with the murder of George Floyd, it brought an urgency to this,” Cook replied. “We are thrilled to do be able to do our part here, and we hope that more people will follow.”

Propel Center render

Propel Center render

Apple is contributing $25 million to create the Propel Center with learning labs and lecture halls. The new education center will be built within Atlanta University Center.

There will also be an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit built in collaboration with Michigan State University. Apple will provide training in app development and other programming skills.

Wallace goes on to probe Cook about his life and what he hopes to accomplish with the initiative. Cook says he “cannot be more excited” about the project’s potential for providing opportunities.

“I remember periods of time, Chris, where, whether you were in high school or college or beyond, where you look around and there are only white people around, whether it’s a college or a university or a graduate school or something. It doesn’t feel right. And so, and so you ask, why is this? And I think it’s the absence of opportunity. It goes back to that,” Cook said. “And so what we’re trying to do with this program is give people the opportunity.”

The interview concludes with a brief discussion of Steve Jobs, Cooks accomplishments with releasing the Apple Watch, and what’s next. Of course Tim Cook replies “we will continue to make the best products in the world” and could not comment on a potential “Apple Car.”

“We would like to use our platform to help solve some of the country’s biggest issues. We always have seen a company as having a bigger role than merely making money but really, also making a difference,” Cook concluded. “And that’s what drives me and gets me up in the morning and gets me to keep coming to work.”

Original Content podcast: Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz have a good time in ‘Pretend It’s A City’

The concept behind the new Netflix documentary series “Pretend It’s A City” is pretty straightforward: Author Fran Lebowitz talks, while Martin Scorsese (who’s both director and an on-camera presence) listens and laughs.

Lebowitz’s musings across seven episodes are organized by loose themes, such as “Metropolitan Transit” and “Library Services,” with the more recent footage interspersed with clips from older interviews. That’s pretty much it as far as structure goes; while Lebowitz shares a number of amusing anecdotes, there’s no attempt to explore the broader arc of her career or explain why we’re watching a show about her.

And yet, as we discuss on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we both enjoyed watching the entire show.

Darrell describes Lebowitz as the consummate party guest, full of aphorisms and provocative opinions on everything from technology to sports to the New York York City subway. And there’s something delightful about watching an accomplished director like Scorsese just relaxing and having a good time.

On the other hand, it would be a little exasperating when we didn’t find Lebowitz’s as remarks quite as hilarious as Scorsese did, and watching one episode after another meant that she eventually wore out her welcome. So it’s probably best to enjoy the series an at a time, rather than binging the whole thing at once.

In addition to reviewing “Pretend It’s A City,” we also discussed Nielsen’s rankings of the most popular streaming services of 2020.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

If you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:34 Listener email
5:46 Nielsen streaming data discussion
14:03 “Pretend It’s a City” review

FBI investigates iPhone data over Capitol attack and school iPad recoveries in the Apple Crime Blotter

The FBI collects location data as evidence for the Capitol attack investigation, an arrest over an iPhone viral video, an armed robbery of a Boost Mobile store, and more in this week’s Apple Crime Blotter.

The latest in an occasional AppleInsider series, looking at news from the world of Apple-related crime.

Capitol insurrection participants could be caught from iPhone and smartphone data

When hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol during the counting of the 2020 electoral votes, one thing was very noticeable: Many of them were holding up iPhones.

In the days that followed the January 8 capitol attack, it was clear that iPhones would be playing a big part in the arrests and eventual prosecutions of some participants. Many of those who took part in the insurrection not only shot and streamed footage, but they were glimpsed on the cameras of photos and videos shot by others, sometimes in the act of committing crimes.

Those phones were emiting location data, and law enforcement agencies have also been using facial recognition technology, including the controversial application Clearview AI, which Apple banned in February 2020.

The FBI, per The Verge, has collected more than 100,000 pieces of digital evidence related to the Capitol attack, and more than 170 cases had been opened as of January 12. At least one criminal complaint for a person charged in connection with the attack specifically referenced an iPhone search, which turned up location data.

Meanwhile, several members of Congress reported computers being stolen from their offices. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a member of the House Democratic leadership, was originally reported to have had his iPad stolen during the insurrection, although it was later determined that a staffer had moved it, reports CNN.

Woman who accused a teenager of stealing her iPhone in viral video is arrested

The woman featured in a viral video in December in which she accused a Black teenager of stealing her iPhone at a hotel in New York — and later appeared to assault him — has been arrested. According to CBS News, the 22-year-old woman was arrested in her home state of California and faces several charges, including attempted robbery, attempted grand larceny, endangering the welfare of a child, and attempted assault.

New Apple patent appears to show security method for Apple Store tables

The pandemic has led to a significant decline in reports about grab-and-run robberies at Apple Stores, but Apple appears to be thinking about how to handle that problem in a post-coronavirus world. Patently Apple spotted that Apple had filed a patent application in early 2020 for a technology called “Product-Display System.” Listing George Yang as the primary inventor, the application describes the new system as “a product-display system for displaying and securing a retail product.”

Police seek two accused in fraudulent purchase at New Jersey Apple Store

A man and a woman are wanted in northern New Jersey on suspicion that they stole someone’s identity, ordered an iPhone online, and then picked it up at the Apple Store in Bridgewater, N.J. According to Tap Into the Breeze, the two people were spotted in security footage near the store.

82 iPads stolen from Ontario schools are recovered

More than 80 iPads that were stolen from the public schools in Brampton, Ont., have now been recovered. CTV News reports there were multiple overnight break-ins at the schools over the course of several months, when the iPads and MacBooks were taken.

A 17-year-old from Brampton has been charged in connection with the thefts.

FBI used smartphone data to track down Ghislaine Maxwell

The arrests in July of accused sex trafficker and Jeffrey Epstein co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell in New Hampshire were made possible by the FBI tracking Maxwell’s cell phone data. The Daily Beast writes Maxwell “opened a mobile account under the name ‘G Max,’ and used it to communicate with those close with her.

It’s not known if it was Maxwell’s iPhone that was ultimately tracked, although it was reported after her arrest that Maxwell had an iPhone and iPad with her during her time living incognito. Also, the FBI had “found a cell phone wrapped in tin foil among her possessions.”

14 iPhones taken in armed robbery of Boost Mobile

A Pennsylvania man was arrested in December and charged with six felonies after he was accused of robbing a Boost Mobile store of 14 iPhones at gunpoint. According to, the same man was also charged with robbing a Family Dollar store.

$100,000 jewelry theft included an Apple Watch

A South Carolina man reported that over $100,000 of jewelry was stolen from his home, with a silver Apple Watch among the items taken.

The Times and Democrat reports that, in addition to the Apple Watch, the items taken included “a tiger-eye ring, a black diamond bracelet, a sapphire ankle bracelet, a sapphire bracelet, a sapphire ring, a cognac diamond ring, a black diamond ring, a large black dog tag and chain, a gold diamond, a 4-karat diamond pinky ring, a gold Rolex watch with a black face.”

Meanwhile, another man living in the same residence reported the theft of “$150 in one-dollar bills that he’d kept in a jar.”

Amazon employees in India accused of stealing iPhones

Two employees of an Amazon warehouse in Gurugram, India, have been arrested for the alleged theft of 38 iPhones. According to, the thefts came when security checks at the facility had been suspended due to coronavirus.