March 4, 2016 Last Updated 7:45 am

Technology giants line-up in support of Apple position; update for NYT VR app includes user tips

Morning Brief: The New York Times offers users new tips on improving their virtual reality experience while using the NYT VR mobile app

It has taken a while, but Apple has managed to line-up powerful allies on its side in its fight against the FBI’s desire to have the company unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino’s shooters. The line-up is extensive, and Apple earlier this week posted the amicus briefs and letters to the court on its website for all to see.

Not all the briefs are directly in support of Apple, however. AT&T, for instance, argues that the issue should be decided by Congress, which would be a legitimate argument were the Congress a functioning branch of government.

The brief that has grabbed the attention of the tech press was the one that lists Amazon, Box, Cisco, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nest, Pinterest, Slack, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Yahoo as its authors.

At the center of the case of the All Writs Act, originally written in 1789: “The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

“Now, 200 years later, the government endeavors to reinterpret the All Writs Act as an open-ended source of new powers,” the brief from the tech companies said. “It asks this Court to endorse an unprecedented expansion of the Act that would allow law enforcement to force private technology companies to circumvent security features that protect their customers’ mores sensitive information from hackers and criminals. Such conscription looks nothing like the “historic aids” that the 1789 Judiciary Act contemplated.”

The New York Times today updated both its news apps for the iPhone and iPad for minor bug fixes. It also issued an update for NYT VR, its virtual reality app.

NYT-VR-Cardboard2The update not only lists changes in the app, but offers users tips on how to better use the app.

I admit to being a bit of a skeptic regarding both the app, but I strongly believe it is the time of experiment the NYT should be doing (assuming they are not spending a fortune on it).

Like 3D, the feature has a certain cool factor attached to it that lasts about as long as it takes to realize that wearing a piece of cardboard on your face makes you look a bit less than cool – kind of like Google Glass.

Here is the app update details:

What’s New in Version 1.5
The app now supports 360 audio. We’re filming a new video right now and this feature is key to the experience. Check back for it next week.Below are some tips for the best Cardboard viewing experience. If you have more tips to share or need help, please email Make sure the center of the screen is aligned with the center of the viewer. It may be necessary to adjust your phone once you’re looking through the viewer to get the alignment just right.

– If the video looks blurry, your phone may be tilted in the viewer. Trying adjusting your phone so it’s aligned flat against the Cardboard. If you have a case on your phone, it may help to remove it.

– If you’re experiencing double vision and realigning your phone doesn’t resolve it, you may need to turn off the zoom setting on your device. To do this on an iPhone 6, go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Display Zoom > View > Standard. To do this on an iPhone 5, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom.

GOP-debate-400What is there to say about the Republican debate last night? Someone should have called the police and put a stop to it. Luckily no one got hurt.

Are these debates really necessary at this point?

The debates remind me of All In The Family: funny, but humor based on embarrassment. Just as you were embarrassed that Archie Bunker said seemingly nonsensical things, so too are you embarrassed to hear candidates for President screaming at each other and talking about inane things.

Unfortunately there is another one of these debates scheduled for March 10, five days before Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio go to vote (as well as the Northern Mariana Islands on the Republican side – wonder if any of the networks will send a reporter there to cover?).

But before then there are primaries being held next Monday, March 8 in Michigan and Mississippi for both teh Democrats and Republicans, and in Hawaii and Idaho only for the Republicans.

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