Apple secret Satellite Project and Apple’s 2019 FALL Platform Security Guide
Apple’s ‘spaceship’ headquarters in California, as seen by drone. | Photo by Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images
A new report from Bloomberg claims Apple is working on satellite technology to beam data to users’ devices, and could launch a new initiative using the tech within five years.
There are a lot of unknowns and caveats, though. The project is “still early and could be abandoned,” says Bloomberg, and it’s not clear what Apple’s end goal is. It’s also not known if the company wants to develop its own satellites or simply utilize others’ satellite data.
With the technology in hand, though, the iPhone maker could do a number of useful things. It could improve its maps service and location tracking, or boost mobile reception and internet coverage for its devices, making the firm more independent of carriers. Apple’s team is reportedly led by former Google satellite staff
Bloomberg says Apple currently has around a dozen engineers working on the project, but is steadily staffing up. The team is reportedly led by a pair of aerospace engineers, Michael Trela and John Fenwick, who previously worked for Skybox Imaging, a satellite imaging firm bought by Google in 2014. While at Google, Trela and Fenwick worked on satellites and spacecraft before moving to Apple in 2017.
These reports are tentative, but Apple certainly isn’t the only tech company showing interest in satellites. The field is experiencing something of a renaissance, as new technology has brought down costs. Both SpaceX and Amazon are working on their own initiatives to provide internet coverage via satellite, and have begun launching what will eventually be constellations of thousands of craft into low Earth orbit.
The satellite industry has a checkered past, though, and is littered with high-profile failures like Iridium, GlobalStar, and Teledisc. These were companies that brought in plenty of funding and launched fleets of satellites in the 1990s, but ultimately failed to sustain themselves due to financial and technological challenges.
Whether or not will fail or fly remains to be seen. But Bloomberg reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken an interest in the project — a potentially positive sign when the company is increasing spending on R&D (up 14 percent in 2019 to $16 billion).
Apple has released its annual Platform Security guide that describes all the measures the company is taking to achieve “maximum security.”
Apple designs security into the core of its platforms. Building on the experience of creating the worldʼs most advanced mobile operating system, Apple has created security architectures that address the unique requirements of mobile, watch, desktop, and home.
The guide covers software, hardware and other features like biometric security, secure booting and much more. In other words, the guide is designed to showcase security technology and is pretty long at 157 pages.
Every Apple device combines hardware, software, and services designed to work together for maximum security and a transparent user experience in service of the ultimate goal of keeping personal information safe. Custom security hardware powers critical security features. Software protections work to keep the operating system and third-party apps safe. Services provide a mechanism for secure and timely software updates, power a safer app ecosystem, secure communications and payments, and provide a safer experience on the Internet. Apple devices protect not only the device and its data, but the entire ecosystem, including everything users do locally, on networks, and with key Internet services.
The guide is segregated into Hardware Security and Biometrics, System Security, Encryption and Data Protection, App Security, Services Security, Network Security, Developer Kits, Secure Device Management, Security Certifications, and Programs.