Apple rumors heat up; political donations via text

A pedestrian walks by an Apple Store on April 24, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off today, and rumors of a new operating system are abound.

Apple kicks off its weeklong developers conference today. And when Apple holds an event, the rumor mill heats up. New versions of the Mac computer are said to be on the way. Those Macs could feature retina display screens, the same super-high resolution as on the newer iPhones and iPads.

Probably won't see a new iPhone, only been eight months since the last one. But Josh Lowensohn from CNET thinks Apple will have a new OS, an operating system, for one of its products.

Josh Lowensohn: The one thing I do believe is that they're going to have some sort of Apple TV OS that comes out -- this has been rumored all over the place.

Moe: This is for the Apple TV peripheral, the little hockey puck.

Lowensohn: Right, so this OS would be for the set top box, but the big idea here is that it would let developers create applications for that, so people could buy an Apple TV or buy apps just like they would on their iPhone.

Facebook just opened an app store too. Everywhere I look are app stores.

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Political candidates want you to text them. Not to arrange a time to meet at the mall. Just to get your money.

The Federal Elections Commission may approve a plan today to allow political donations via text message.

Craig Engle is with Arent Fox, a law firm representing aggregator companies that would collect donations and distribute them to the campaigns.

Craig Engle: A candidate would say text $10 to 551234. By hitting yes that I want that texted contribution to occur, that information would flow through the aggregator, the carrier, like AT&T, with the proceeds - net - going to the candidate committee.

Moe: What about all the information about the donor that usually go along with donations?

Engle: Because these donations are $10 a piece, no record keeping is going to have to be required.

Moe: Could someone from a cell phone send in 100 donations of $10 a piece and still stay under the radar?

Engle: I doubt that. First of all there is technology in the texting industry to limit the amount of money one particular phone number could contribute over let's say a year. The other thing is a matter of practicality. It just doesn't seem practical or likely that an individual  would text keep texting $10 over and over and over to one political committee.

Will these relatively tiny donations make a difference in elections?

Political scientist Michael Cornfield:

Michael Cornfield: The campaign gets only maybe 50 percent of the money. The money goes to the wireless companies and the aggregators who sort of have an escrow account to make this scheme work. The campaigns - what they want are your cell phone numbers

Moe: Why do they want those?

Cornfield: So that they can contact you back and ask for real money.

Moe: Does either party stand to make out better with this system?

Cornfield: The Obama campaign is for this, the Romney campaign is for this, the Republican party is for this, the Democratic party is for this, and the Republican commissioners and the Democratic commissioners on the FEC are for this -- what that means is they think this is a wash. Now, that may tell us something about the state of current politics because traditionally, the Democrats have been thought to have the sort of small donor general citizen advantage, but the Republicans must not think that exists anymore or they wouldn't be for this.

If this gets approved, candidates will be asking for your text donations before Election Day. 

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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