This week in ExtraBITS, we ponder the Apple TV as the hub of your connected home, the U.S. Supreme Court deals a blow software patents, we learn that OS X Yosemite’s Handoff feature will require Bluetooth 4.0, your Synology NAS device might be mining someone else’s Dogecoin, YouTube gets tough on indie music labels, and Apple settles with states and consumers over ebook price fixing.
The Apple TV as HomeKit’s Hub — HomeKit in iOS 8 promises to unify all of your connected home devices, but how would you control them while away from home? Christopher Breen of Macworld suggests that the Apple TV might be the home gateway to HomeKit, with an upgraded model serving as a smart hub for home automation.
U.S. Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Software Patents — In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that “abstract ideas” are not patentable. While this decision doesn’t completely eliminate software patents, it does require that such patents rely on “concrete improvements or new designs, not an aggregation of existing steps.”
OS X Yosemite’s Handoff Will Require Bluetooth 4.0 — Handoff will be one of the coolest features of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, letting you seamlessly transition between workflows on the two platforms, but unfortunately for owners of older Macs, it will require Bluetooth 4.0, which excludes Macs built before 2011, and even many built later. Peter Cohen of iMore explains how to check which version of Bluetooth your Mac has. If your Mac isn’t compatible with Handoff, a USB dongle that provides Bluetooth 4.0 may enable Handoff by Yosemite’s release.
Synology NAS Devices Hacked to Mine Dogecoin — If you own a Synology NAS device and haven’t updated recently, you should. Attackers are taking advantage of an older vulnerability (patched in February 2014) to mine the Dogecoin virtual currency (an offshoot of Bitcoin that originally began as a joke). One German attacker managed to mine over $600,000 of Dogecoin from Synology boxes. It’s yet another reason why you shouldn’t enable remote administration on your devices unless absolutely necessary.
YouTube Playing Hardball with Indie Labels — Google-owned YouTube is preparing to launch a music subscription service, and it’s threatening to yank existing music videos from labels that don’t join. YouTube argues that it cannot allow music to exist on its free tier that isn’t also available on its paid service. Affected artists would include Adele, Arctic Monkeys, and Vampire Weekend.
Apple Settles with States and Customers over Ebooks — Apple has settled with U.S. attorneys general and customers over conspiring with publishers to fix ebook prices, avoiding a trial that could have cost the company up to $840 million in claims. Meanwhile, Apple is still appealing the September 2013 ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote that placed a number of restrictions on the way Apple sells ebooks.