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Chipmaker Nvidia's CEO Sees Fully Autonomous Cars Within 4 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 06:53 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang said on Thursday artificial intelligence would enable fully automated cars within 4 years, but sought to tamp down expectations for a surge in demand for its chips from cryptocurrency miners. Nvidia came to prominence in the gaming industry for designing graphics-processing chips, but in recent years has been expanding into newer technologies including high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, and self-driving cars. Its expansion has been richly rewarded with a 170 percent stock surge over the past year, boosting its market value to $116 billion. "It will take no more than 4 years to have fully autonomous cars on the road. How long it takes for the vast majority of cars on the road to become that, it really just depends," Huang told media after a company event in Taipei.

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CERN Scientists Conclude that the Universe Should Not Exist
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 06:53 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's mystery-continues department:
Scientists at CERN are bemused as to why the universe exists, according to a new study. From a report, shared by a reader: Recent discoveries suggest that there's a perfect symmetry between matter and antimatter - meaning it's not clear why they didn't annihilate each other upon the birth of the universe. CERN's latest study sought to find out whether different magnetic properties accounted for matter's seeming victory after the Big Bang, but found another point of symmetry. Essentially, going by our findings so far, there simply shouldn't be a universe. Further reading: Universe shouldn't exist, CERN physicists conclude - Cosmos Magazine.

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Uber Faces Engineers' Lawsuit Alleging Gender, Race Bias
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 05:34 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's workplace-disputes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Uber was sued by three Latina engineers who claim the company pays women and people of color less than their peers and doesn't promote them as frequently as males, whites and Asians. The three women from the ride-hailing company, one of whom still works there, accused Uber of violating California's Equal Pay Act in a complaint filed Tuesday in San Francisco state court on behalf of all engineers similarly held back. The women filed the complaint under a state statute that gives employees the right to step into the shoes of the state labor secretary to bring enforcement actions. That law also may give them a way around a provision in Uber's contracts requiring workplace disputes to go through one-on-one arbitration instead of as group actions in court. "Female employees and employees of color are systematically undervalued compared to their male and white or Asian American peers because female employees and employees of color receive, on average, lower rankings despite equal or better performance," according to the complaint against Uber. In July, Uber said that it adjusted salaries to ensure equity in pay for women and minorities.

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Linux Mint Is Killing the KDE Edition
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 04:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department:
BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: While both the Cinnamon and Mate versions of Linux Mint are decent choices for computer users, there was one version that was always utterly bizarre -- the KDE Edition. Don't get me wrong, KDE is a fine environment, but Kubuntu already exists. Having a version of Mint using KDE was redundant and confusing. Thankfully, today, the Linux Mint team announces it is finally killing the KDE edition. "In continuation with what's been done in the past, Linux Mint 18.3 will feature a KDE edition, but it will be the last release to do so. I would like to thank Kubuntu for the amazing work they have done. The quality of Plasma 5 in Xenial made backports a necessity. The rapid pace of development upstream from the KDE project made this very challenging, yet they managed to provide a stable flow of updates for us and we were able to ship good KDE editions thanks to that. I don't think this would have been possible without them," says Clement Lefebvre, Linux Mint. Lefebvre further says, "KDE is a fantastic environment but it's also a different world, one which evolves away from us and away from everything we focus on. Their apps, their ecosystem and the QT toolkit which is central there have very little in common with what we're working on. We're not just shipping releases and distributing upstream software. We're a product distribution and we see ourselves as a complete desktop operating system. We like to integrate solutions, develop whatâ(TM)s missing, adapt what's not fitting perfectly, and we do a great deal of that not only around our own Cinnamon desktop environment but also thanks to cross-DE frameworks we put in place to support similar environments, such as MATE and Xfce."

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The Geometry of Islamic Art Becomes a Treasure of a Game
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 04:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fun-for-the-whole-family department:
Sam Machkovech from Ars Technica reviews the game Engare, describing it as a "clever, deceptively simple, and beautiful rumination on geometry and Islamic art-making traditions." The game consists of relatively simple puzzles and a freeform art toy that unlocks its puzzles' tools to allow you to make whatever patterns you please. From the report: The game, made almost entirely by 23-year-old Iranian developer Mahdi Bahrami, starts with a 2D scene of a circle repeatedly traveling along a line. Above this, an instructional card shows a curved-diagonal line. Drop a dot on the moving circle, the game says, and it will generate a bold line, like ink on a page. As the ball (and thus, your dot) rolls, the inked line unfurls; if you put the dot on a different part of the circle, then your inked line may have more curve or angle to it, based on the total motion of the moving, rotating circle. Your object is to recreate this exact curved-diagonal line. If your first ink-drop doesn't do the trick, try again. Each puzzle presents an increasingly complex array of moving and rotating shapes, lines, and dots. You have to watch the repeating patterns and rotations in a particular puzzle to understand where to drop an ink dot and draw the demanded line. At first, you'll have to recreate simple turns, curves, and zig-zags. By the end, you'll be making insane curlicues and rug-like super-patterns.

< article continued at Slashdot's fun-for-the-whole-family department >

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Roku Wants To Start Streaming To Third-Party Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on October 26 '17 at 12:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's third-party department:
According to Variety, Roku is looking to start streaming videos on devices made or controlled by competitors like Apple and Google. The company's first foray into streaming on third-party hardware will likely involve mobile devices. From the report: The move could further accelerate Roku's efforts to transition from a hardware-revenue-based to a services-based business model -- a transition that has been in progress for years. Now, it plans to also stream some content on devices that don't run its operating system, with mobile being a likely first step. Key to Roku's expansion into mobile video is going to be the company's existing mobile app, which has already been downloaded tens of millions of times on iOS and Android. The app's current primary function is remote control, as it allows owners of Roku streaming devices and Roku-powered TVs to control these devices directly from their phones. In fact, the app can't currently be operated if there is not a Roku device available on the same Wifi network. This could change soon, as Roku is looking to integrate video playback directly into its mobile app. A first step is likely going to be the integration of the Roku Channel, an ad-supported channel that the company launched last month. The Roku Channel currently offers free, ad-supported access to several hundred movies from major studios like Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. as well as smaller publishers like American Classics, Fandor, FilmRise, Nosey, OVGuide, Popcornflix, Vidmark, and YuYu. However, Roku has been asking publishers to also grant the company the rights to stream their titles on mobile devices, according to a source familiar with these stipulations.

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Electric Cars Emit 50 Percent Less Greenhouse Gas Than Diesel, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 08:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's energy-consumption department:
entirely_fluffy shares a report from The Guardian: Electric cars emit significantly less greenhouse gases over their lifetimes than diesel engines even when they are powered by the most carbon intensive energy, a new report has found. In Poland, which uses high volumes of coal, electric vehicles produced a quarter less emissions than diesels when put through a full lifecycle modeling study by Belgium's VUB University. CO2 reductions on Europe's cleanest grid in Sweden were a remarkable 85%, falling to around one half for countries such as the UK. The new study uses an EU estimate of Poland's emissions -- at 650gCO2/kWh -- which is significantly lower than calculations by the European commission's Joint Research Centre science wing last year. The VUB study says that while the supply of critical metals -- lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite -- and rare earths would have to be closely monitored and diversified, it should not constrain the clean transport transition. As battery technology improves and more renewables enter the electricity grid, emissions from battery production itself could be cut by 65%, the study found.

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Tesla Turns Power Back On At Children's Hospital In Puerto Rico
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 05:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's flip-of-the-switch department:
Elon Musk took to Instagram yesterday to announce the "first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico." Tesla has used its solar panels and batteries to restore reliable electricity at San Juan's Hospital del Nino (Children's Hospital) after the country was devastated by two powerful hurricanes in September. NPR reports: Musk's company announced its success in getting the hospital's power working again less than three weeks after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello tweeted on Oct. 6, "Great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities." Tesla's image of the project's solar array, in a parking lot next to the hospital, has been liked more than 84,000 times since it was posted to Instagram Tuesday. The hospital's new system allows it to generate all the energy it needs, according to El Nuevo Dia. The facility has 35 permanent residents with chronic conditions; it also offers services to some 3,000 young patients, the newspaper says. As for who is paying for the power system, the head of the hospital tells Nuevo Dia that for now, it's a donation -- and that after the energy crisis is over, a deal could make it permanent. Both Rossello and the tech company tweeted about the project this week, with Tesla saying in a post, "Grateful to support the recovery of Puerto Rico with @ricardorossello" -- and Rossello stating, "A major contribution of @Tesla to the Hospital del Nino."

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Google's Sentiment Analyzer Thinks Being Gay Is Bad
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 05:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's whoopsy-daisy department:
gooddogsgotoheaven shares a report from Motherboard: In July 2016, Google announced the public beta launch of a new machine learning application program interface (API), called the Cloud Natural Language API. It allows developers to incorporate Google's deep learning models into their own applications. As the company said in its announcement of the API, it lets you "easily reveal the structure and meaning of your text in a variety of languages." In addition to entity recognition (deciphering what's being talked about in a text) and syntax analysis (parsing the structure of that text), the API included a sentiment analyzer to allow programs to determine the degree to which sentences expressed a negative or positive sentiment, on a scale of -1 to 1. The problem is the API labels sentences about religious and ethnic minorities as negative -- indicating it's inherently biased. For example, it labels both being a Jew and being a homosexual as negative. A Google spokesperson issued the following statement in response to Motherboard's request for comment: "We dedicate a lot of efforts to making sure the NLP API avoids bias, but we don't always get it right. This is an example of one of those times, and we are sorry. We take this seriously and are working on improving our models. We will correct this specific case, and, more broadly, building more inclusive algorithms is crucial to bringing the benefits of machine learning to everyone."

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FCC To Loosen TV, Newspaper Ownership Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's landmark-regulations department:
The FCC is planning to vote on rolling back landmark media ownership regulations that prohibit owning a television station and newspaper in the same market and making it easier to acquire additional TV or radio stations. Reuters reports: If approved at the FCC's November meeting, the move would be a win for newspapers and broadcasters that have pushed for the change for decades, but was criticized by Democrats who said it could usher in a new era of media consolidation. The FCC in 1975 banned cross-ownership of a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market, unless it granted a waiver, to ensure a diversity of opinions. The rule was made before the explosion of internet and cable news and Republican President Donald Trump and Pai have vowed to reduce government regulation.

"We must stop the federal government from intervening in the news business," Pai told a congressional panel, noting that many newspapers have closed and many radio and TV stations are struggling. Pai moved earlier this year to make it easier for some companies to own a larger number of local stations. Pai said the marketplace no longer justifies the rules, citing Facebook and Alphabet's dominance of internet advertising. "Online competition for the collection and distribution of news is greater than ever. And just two internet companies claim 100 percent of recent online advertising growth; indeed, their digital ad revenue this year alone will be greater than the market cap of the entire broadcasting industry," Pai said.

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Justice Department Demands Five Twitter Users' Personal Info Over an Emoji
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's its-personal department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Techdirt: Back in May, the Justice Department -- apparently lacking anything better to do with its time -- sent a subpoena to Twitter, demanding a whole bunch of information on five Twitter users, including a few names that regular Techdirt readers may be familiar with. If you can't see that, it's a subpoena asking for information on the following five Twitter users: @dawg8u ("Mike Honcho"), @abtnatural ("Virgil"), @Popehat (Ken White), @associatesmind (Keith Lee) and @PogoWasRight (Dissent Doe). I'm pretty sure we've talked about three of those five in previous Techdirt posts. Either way, they're folks who are quite active in legal/privacy issues on Twitter. And what info does the DOJ want on them? Well, basically everything: [users' names, addresses, IP addresses associated with their time on Twitter, phone numbers and credit card or bank account numbers.] That's a fair bit of information. Why the hell would the DOJ want all that? Would you believe it appears to be over a single tweet from someone to each of those five individuals that consists entirely of a smiley face? I wish I was kidding. Here's the tweet and then I'll get into the somewhat convoluted back story. The tweet is up as I write this, but here's a screenshot in case it disappears. The Department of Justice's subpoena is intended to address allegations that Shafer, who has a history of spotting weak encryption and drawing attention to it, cyberstalked an FBI agent after the agency raided his home. Vanity Fair summarizes the incident: "In 2013, Shafer discovered that FairCom's data-encryption package had actually exposed a dentist's office to data theft. An F.T.C. settlement later validated Shafer's reporting, but in 2016, when another dentist's office responded to Shafer's disclosure by claiming he'd violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and broken the law, the F.B.I. raided his home and confiscated many of his electronics. Shafer was particularly annoyed at F.B.I. Special Agent Nathan Hopp, who helped to conduct the raid, and who was later involved in a different case: in March, he compiled a criminal complaint involving the F.B.I.'s arrest of a troll for tweeting a flashing GIF at journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who is epileptic. Shafer began to compile publicly available information about Hopp, sharing his findings on Twitter. The Twitter users named in the subpoena had started a separate discussion about Hopp, with one user calling Hopp the "least busy F.B.I. agent of all time," a claim that prompted Shafer's smiley-faced tweet."

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Ask Slashdot: Where Do Old Programmers Go?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hide-and-seek department:
New submitter oort99 writes: Barreling towards my late 40s, I've enjoyed 25+ years of coding for a living, working in telecoms, government, and education. In recent years, it's been typical enterprise Java stuff. Looking around, I'm pretty much always the oldest in the room. So where are the other old guys? I can't imagine they've all moved up the chain into management. There just aren't enough of those positions to absorb the masses of aging coders. Clearly there *are* older workers in software, but they are a minority. What sectors have the others gone into? Retired early? Low-wage service sector? Genuinely interested to hear your story about having left the field, willfully or otherwise.

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Oracle Engineer Talks of ZFS File System Possibly Still Being Upstreamed On Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's partly-cloudy-with-a-chance-of-rain department:
New submitter fstack writes: Senior software architect Mark Maybee who has been working at Oracle/Sun since '98 says maybe we "could" still see ZFS be a first-class upstream Linux file-system. He spoke at the annual OpenZFS Developer Summit about how Oracle's focus has shifted to the cloud and how they have reduced investment in Solaris. He admits that Linux rules the cloud. Among the Oracle engineer's hopes is that ZFS needs to become a "first class citizen in Linux," and to do so Oracle should port their ZFS code to Oracle Linux and then upstream the file-system to the Linux kernel, which would involve relicensing the ZFS code.

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Verizon Will Stop Throttling Video On Unlimited Plans If You Pay An Extra $10 Per Month
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 01:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's added-fee department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Two months ago, Verizon implemented a change to all of its unlimited data plans that placed limits on the quality at which users could stream video. The company split its unlimited plan into two tiers, with the cheaper option restricting video streaming to 480p resolution; a higher-priced $85 "Beyond Unlimited" plan tops out at 720p video on smartphones (and 1080p on tablets). The new restrictions immediately applied to all plans and Verizon customers had no way of opting out if they wanted to watch 1080p video on their phone or even higher resolutions on capable devices using mobile data. But now Verizon will give subscribers a way to completely remove the video quality handcuffs -- for an extra $10 every month. If you're willing to pay that $10 charge, you can stream video at the maximum quality supported by any device you've got connected to Verizon, whether it's 1080p, 1440p, or even 4K. But keep in mind that the extra fee is applied per line for anyone on a family plan who wants to lift the limits. Even on a single-line plan, it adds up. Tacking $10 onto Verizon's Beyond Unlimited ratchets up the monthly price to $95. The $10 add-on will be available beginning November 3rd.

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Amazon Key Puts Deliveries -- And Delivery People -- In Your Home
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-up department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Rushing home to sign for a package can be a chore, and nothing craters a day like having a delivery stolen from your doorstep. The question Amazon asks with its new Key app and Cloud security camera: Are those annoyances enough to let a delivery person into your home, unattended, to drop off a box? The answer should present itself soon enough, at least in the 37 cities in which Amazon will launch its new in-home delivery service as of November 8. There, customers who purchase an Amazon Cloud Cam, own a compatible smart lock, and download the accompanying Amazon Key app can grant access for in-home deliveries -- and watch the drop-offs live, remotely. The system, exclusive for Prime members, costs $250 to get started, a price that includes both the camera and a smart lock from either Kwikset or Yale. (You can also buy the cameras individually for $120, with a slight discount applied for buying multiples.) And while Amazon has gone to some lengths to minimize the creepiness of a definitionally invasive service, it still forces potential enlistees to consider just what kind of trade-offs they're willing to make in the name of convenience. Amazon says that in-home delivery will be available for "tens of millions" of items, whether it's sent same-day, standard, or any shipping method in between. As for those safety measures: Amazon's doing what it can to ensure that strangers don't game its system.

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With Camera Permission, iPhone Apps Can Surreptitiously Take Pictures and Videos
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
An anonymous reader writes: Whenever you give iPhone apps permission to access your camera, the app can surreptitiously take pictures and videos of you as long as the app is in the foreground, a security researcher warned on Wednesday. This is not a bug, but keep it in mind when a random app asks you for permission to access your camera. What this means is that even if you don't see the camera "open" in the form of an on-screen viewfinder, an app can still take photos and videos. It is unknown how many apps currently do this, but Krause created a test app as a proof-of-concept. This behavior is what enables certain "spy" apps like Stealth Cam and Easy Calc - Camera Eye to exist. But even if this behavior is well-known among iOS developers and hardcore users, it's worth remembering that all apps that have camera permission can technically take photos in this way. "It's something most people have no idea about, as they think the camera is only being used if they see the camera content or a LED is blinking," Krause told Motherboard in a chat over Twitter direct message. Krause currently works at Google, but performed and published this research independently of his work there.

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China Shuts Down Tens Of Thousands Of Factories In Widespread Pollution Crackdown
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's bold-steps department:
Buildings in China are shrouded in smog. From a report: China has implemented an unprecedented pollution crackdown in recent months as the country shuts down tens of thousands of factories. The effort is part of a national effort to address China's infamous pollution and has affected wide swaths of China's manufacturing sector. In total, it is estimated that 40 percent of all China's factories have been shut down at some point in order to be inspected by environmental bureau officials. As a result of these inspections over 80,000 factories have been hit with fines and criminal offenses as a result of their emissions. Safety officials have been moving from province to province (30 in total so far) shutting down factories as well as electricity and gas as they inspect the factories for meeting emissions requirements. This has resulted in late and missed orders, increased costs, and could ultimately result in higher prices on US shelves.

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Tesla's Mass Firings Spread To SolarCity as Employees Say They Were Blindsided
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-road-ahead department:
Tesla has laid off over 200 employees from its SolarCity business for performance reasons, just over a week after firing hundreds more from its motor vehicle division. From a report: Employee dismissals at Tesla are continuing, according to six former and current employees, and have spread from its motor division to SolarCity offices across the U.S. Echoing reports from earlier this month, these SolarCity employees say they were surprised to be told they were fired for performance reasons, claiming Tesla had not conducted performance reviews since acquiring the solar energy business. Earlier this month, Tesla began firing hundreds of employees after it announced a recall of 11,000 Model X SUVs. Tesla had already announced plans to lay off 205 SolarCity employees at its Roseville, California, office by the end of October this year. However, SolarCity employees across the country have been fired in the last two weeks -- not just in California, but also in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and beyond, according to these employees.

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Honolulu Now Fines People Up To $99 For Texting While Crossing Road
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The Hawaiian city of Honolulu has resorted to fining people up to $99 for staring at the devices, to try and force people to look up from their phones while crossing the road. The new law gives police the power to fine people up to $35 for their first offence, $75 for their second and $99 thereafter, perhaps expecting it to take quite some effort to get people to take notice. The bill, which comes into force today after being rubber stamped by the Hawaiian city's mayor in July, states that "no pedestrian shall cross a street or highway while viewing a mobile electronic device." Mobile phones are included as well as any "text messaging device, paging device, personal digital assistant, laptop computer, video game, or digital photographic device" but audio equipment is excluded. Holding a conversation on a phone while walking is still permitted, as is using a device in an emergency, but crossing the road while texting, reading or Facebooking -- as millions around the world do every day -- is not.

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Apple Reduced Face ID Accuracy To Ease Production, Bloomberg Reports
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's quality-over-quantity department:
In order to speed up the production of iPhone X, which Apple plans to begin shipping starting November 3, the iPhone-maker told its suppliers that they could reduce the accuracy of the Face ID facial recognition system, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing multiple people familiar with the matter. Earlier reports suggest that suppliers were facing difficulties manufacturing the Face ID system, something that was holding them back from manufacturing enough iPhone X units for the holiday season. From the report: As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation. Apple is famously demanding, leaning on suppliers and contract manufacturers to help it make technological leaps and retain a competitive edge. While a less accurate Face ID will still be far better than the existing Touch ID, the company's decision to downgrade the technology for this model shows how hard it's becoming to create cutting-edge features that consumers are hungry to try. And while Apple has endured delays and supply constraints in the past, those typically have been restricted to certain iPhone colors or less important offerings such as the Apple Watch. This time the production hurdles affected a 10th-anniversary phone expected to generate much of the company's revenue. Apple has denied the claims made in Bloomberg report.

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