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Seth's Blog: Hardware is Sexy, But It's Software that Matters ( 69

American author and entrepreneur Seth Godin argues that though hardware is nice and dandy, it is the software that matters. And not just software that runs on a computer, "but the metaphorical idea of rules and algorithms designed to solve problems and connect people," he writes. Godin has used the piece to note how Apple has increasingly grown focused on hardware, and as a result, it's not putting much effort to fixing its software. He writes, "Automator, a buggy piece of software with no support, and because it's free, no competitors. Keynote, a presentation program that hasn't been improved in years. iOS 10, which replaces useful with pretty. iTunes, which is now years behind useful tools like Roon. No significant steps forward in word processing, spreadsheets, video editing, file sharing, internet tools, conferencing, etc. Apple contributed mightily to a software revolution a decade ago, but they've stopped. Think about how many leaps forward Slack, Dropbox, Zapier and others have made in popular software over the last few decades. But it requires a significant commitment to keep it moving forward. It means upending the status quo and creating something new." From the article: Software can change faster than hardware, which means that in changing markets, bet on software. It's tempting to treat the user interface as a piece of fashion, some bling, a sort of jewelry. It's not. It's the way your user controls the tool you build. Change it when it stops working, not when you're bored with it. Every time you change the interface, you better have a really good reason.John Gruber disagrees. He writes: Software, in general, is much better than it used to be. Unlike 1995, we don't lose data due to bugs very often. (For me personally, I can't even remember the last time I lost data.) But our hardware is so much better than our software, the contrast is jarring. An iPhone is a nearly perfect object. Sleek, attractive, simple. The hardware is completely knowable -- there are only five buttons, each of them easily understood. iOS, however, is effectively infinite. The deeper our software gets, the less we know and understand it. It's unsettling.

Apple Releases iOS 10.1 With New Portrait Mode For iPhone 7 Plus ( 45

Apple has released iOS 10.1 to the public today for all iOS 10 users, and with it comes several new features, a long list of bug fixes, and various other under-the-hood improvements. One of the biggest new features introduced is a new "Portrait" mode, which uses the dual cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus to create shallow depth of field portrait photos with plenty of background bokeh. MacRumors reports: To achieve the blurred look, the image signal processor in the device uses the wide-angle camera to create a depth map while the telephoto captures an image, dissecting the different layers of the photo to decide what to blur with an artful "bokeh" effect. It works on people, pets, and objects, but it does require good lighting to achieve the proper results. The update also [...] brings Transit directions to Japan for the first time. There have been some tweets to the Messages app. It's now possible to play Bubble and Screen effects in Messages with Reduce Motion enabled, something that wasn't previously possible. There's also a new option to replay Bubble and Screen effects. It's important to the note that the "Portrait" mode is still in beta, and will not work flawlessly. Mac Rumors has a full list of the changes made to iOS 10.1 embedded in their report, which you can view here.

China Overtakes the US in iOS App Store Revenue ( 53

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch: China has now overtaken the U.S. to become the largest market in the world for App Store revenue, according to a new report out this morning from app intelligence firm App Annie. The country earned over $1.7 billion in Q3 2016, which puts it ahead of the U.S. by over 15 percent. The U.S. had been the number one iOS market since 2010, the report notes. Today, Chinese consumers spend more than 5 times the amount they were spending compared with just two years prior. In addition, the report predicts that China will drive the largest absolute revenue growth for any country by 2020. The estimations are likely accurate -- App Annie had said at the beginning of the year that if China's rapid App Store revenue growth continued at the same pace, it would overtake the U.S. by year's end. And that has now occurred. This growth is largely being driven by games, and here, China's lead has also widened over the U.S. during the past quarter. Games drive 75 percent of App Store revenue, even though non-game apps make up the majority (75%) of those distributed in Apple's mobile marketplace.
Operating Systems

Researchers Bypass ASLR Protection On Intel Haswell CPUs ( 72

An anonymous reader writes: "A team of scientists from two U.S. universities has devised a method of bypassing ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) protection by taking advantage of the BTB (Branch Target Buffer), a component included in many modern CPU architectures, including Intel Haswell CPUs, the processor they used for tests in their research," reports Softpedia. The researchers discovered that by blasting the BTB with random data, they could run a successful collision attack that reveals the memory locations where apps execute code in the computer's memory -- the very thing that ASLR protection was meant to hide. While during their tests they used a Linux PC with a Intel Haswell CPU, researchers said the attack can be ported to other CPU architectures and operating systems where ASLR is deployed, such as Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. From start to finish, the collision attack only takes 60 milliseconds, meaning it can be embedded with malware or any other digital forensics tool and run without needing hours of intense CPU processing. You can read the research paper, titled "Jump Over ASLR: Attacking Branch Predictors to Bypass ASLR," here.

Google To Launch Streaming TV Service In Early 2017 ( 21

It looks like the internet search giant is expected to beat Apple to the punch by releasing its streaming TV service early next year. The Wall Street Journal notes that CBS has agreed to bring content to the service, while 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney are in the final stages of talks to add their content to the service. What's more is that the service is expected to be "housed under the YouTube brand." Karl Bode for DSLReports writes: The service, to be called "Unplugged," aims to be a "low-cost option targeting customers who either have resisted subscribing to traditional pay-TV or cut the cord due to rising costs." While Google sells traditional TV service in its Google Fiber footprint, subscriber numbers have been low for the service. An over the top service might be well received by the general public, but it also might provide promising if bundled with Google FIber's existing broadband offerings. Google is looking to offer a "skinny" bundle of live TV channels with a price in the range of $25 to $40 a month, states the Journal. The report also notes that the service will be entirely separate from YouTube Red, a subscription service ($10 or $13 for iOS users) that offers ad-free YouTube video viewing.
The Almighty Buck

Apple is 'Intransigent, Closed and Controlling' Say Banks ( 284

Apple is increasingly trying to get banks to implement its Apple Pay mobile payments solutions, but some banks are avoiding Cupertino giant's offer, saying that the company is "closed and controlling". From a report on Financial Review: Three of Australia's big four banks have described technology giant Apple as being "intransigent, closed and controlling" and accused it of attempting to freeload on their contactless payments infrastructure while slowing innovation in digital wallets. In an increasingly acrimonious dispute, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, Westpac Banking Corp and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank are arguing that the engineering of Apple iPhones prevent them from delivering mobile wallets to millions of customers. This is because Apple Pay is the only application that works with the iPhone's "near field communication" (NFC) antenna, which communicates with payment terminals. In their latest, 137-page submission filed with the competition regulator, the banks argue that by locking them out, "Apple is seeking for itself the exclusive use of Australia's existing NFC terminal infrastructure for the making of integrated mobile payments using iOS devices. Yet, this infrastructure was built and paid for by Australian banks and merchants for the benefit of all Australians."

UK Police Begins Deployment of 22,000 Police Body Cameras ( 65

An anonymous reader writes: London's Metropolitan Police Service has begun a roll-out of 22,000 Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras to officers over the city's 32 boroughs after ten years of country-wide trials. The device, which records video only when the officer decides, has a 130-degree field of view and a 30-second buffer which permits police to begin recording even after an event has started. The makers of the camera also provide an Android/iOS app which can allow a remote viewer to connect to an officer's camera, effectively turning police operatives into walking CCTVs. Academic research has suggested that use of BWV cams can reduce complaints against officers by 93%, and the Met contends that the new technology, whose cloud-based systems erases unwanted videos after 31 days, is particularly effective in domestic violence cases.

Facebook Now Lets You Use Google Cast or AirPlay To Stream Video On Your TV ( 31

Facebook has made it a high priority over the years to improve its video platform so that it can better compete with the monolithic video service that is YouTube. Today, the company has added another feature, one that allows users to stream Facebook video content to the Apple TV via AirPlay and to various Google Cast-enabled devices. Digital Trends reports: The feature is available on the Facebook iOS app and, according to Facebook, it will be available on Android soon. The best thing about it, however, is how easy it is to use. Simply find a video you want to watch, then tap the TV button and select which device the app should stream to. Another highlight of the feature is that it is truly built for Facebook -- that is to say, when you are watching a video on the big screen, your phone is not on lockdown until the video is over. Instead, you can keep scrolling through the News Feed, treating your TV as more of a second screen than simply a mirror of your phone.

Google News Introduces Fact Check Feature -- Just In Time For the US Election ( 367

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Google today introduced a new feature that will tag and help find "fact checking in large news stories." Tagged articles will show up in the new story box on, as well as in the Google News and Weather app for iOS and Android in the US and UK. There's a two-pronged approach to detecting fact checking. First Google looks for actual markup in the site's source code. Then Google looks for pages "that follow the commonly accepted criteria for fact checks." You can learn more about the process here. To be clear, the tags show up in small grey text above the article links -- Google itself isn't passing judgement, nor does it tell you the source article's conclusion in search results. It's merely a sign that says "hey, read me to find out the truth." Still, it's a nice way to make sure readers are at least forming opinions based on fact rather than fiction.
It's funny.  Laugh.

English Man Spends 11 Hours Trying To Make Cup of Tea With Wi-Fi Kettle ( 200

All data specialist Mark Rittman wanted was a cup of tea from his all new Wi-Fi kettle. Little did he know that the thing would take 11 hours for that. The issue, in the case of Rittman was, that the base station was not able to communicate with the kettle itself. According to The Guardian: A key problem seemed to be that Rittman's kettle didn't come with software that would easily allow integration with other devices in his home, including Amazon Echo, which, like Apple's Siri, allows users to tell connected smart devices what to do. So Rittman was trying to build the integration functionality himself. Then, after 11 hours, a breakthrough: the kettle started responding to voice control.

Android 7.1 To Roll Out To Nexus Devices in December; Preview Goes Out This Month ( 26

Google said today it will roll out Android 7.1 to a range of Nexus devices -- including Nexus 6 -- later this year (December). A developer preview of Android 7.1 will be available to enthusiasts later this month. From an Engadget report: They also confirmed what 7.1 will bring to the table. Aside from Daydream VR support, most of the new features focus on giving developers more options to spruce up their apps' functionality. First, they can now make custom shortcuts, much like the ones popping up in iOS via 3D Touch. There's also support for image keyboards so users can insert stickers or GIFs within apps. For carriers and calling apps, 7.1 has APIs for multi-endpoint calling and telephony configuration. Lastly, developers can now route users to a Settings page to free up storage space by deleting unused files.

A French Company is Suing Apple To Open the iPhone To Rival Browsing Engines ( 72

A French maker of open-source software said Friday it is suing Apple in an effort to get the company to make iOS more supportive of Web standards. Nexedi is suing Apple under French law in hopes it can force Apple to allow rival browsing engines onto the iPhone. From a report on Recode:Although Apple allows rival browser apps, such as Google's Chrome, on to the iPhone, the'y all have to use Apple's Web rendering engine. That means the ability to draw on the latest Web standards is is limited to whatever Apple decides to include. That means some newer technologies, like the WebM video standard and the WebRTC protocol for real-time communications, can't be made to work in an iOS browser even though they work in nearly all other browsers. "We hope [this lawsuit] will help Apple to sooner support the latest Web and HTML5 standards on its iOS platform -- the operating system used by all iPhones," Nexedi said in a blog post, which also explains the more granular details of how technology works and what needs to change, in their estimation.

Amazon Piles On the Prime Benefits With New 'Prime Reading' Perk ( 54

Amazon today unveiled the latest perk for Prime members in the United States: Prime Reading. With this, the company is offering access to "over a thousand" Kindle books, comics, magazines and more. The selection will rotate, the company says, suggesting that you should be able to read titles that aren't available today. GeekWire adds: The new perk, Prime Reading, lets Amazon Prime members access more than 1,000 e-books from best-selling authors at no extra charge, read a rotating selection of popular magazines, and read content from the company's Kindle Singles library, including classic short stories and essays. Prime reading is available on the Kindle app for iOS and Android, and on the company's Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets. The new perk comes in addition to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which lets Prime members who own Amazon devices borrow one e-book a month from a larger selection of titles. Separate from a Prime membership, Amazon offers the $10/month Kindle Unlimited e-book subscription service.Amazon Prime program costs $99 per year.

The Microsoft Band Is Dead ( 58

Microsoft's fitness-band line of devices have not be very well adopted over the years. Last month it was reported that Microsoft will be killing off the Lumia brand in favor of a new Surface Phone brand. Now, it appears the company is discontinuing its Band devices, as it has removed all references to them from its Microsoft Store listing online. Mary Jo Foley writes via ZDNet: A tipster who asked not to be named showed me a cached version of the Microsoft Online Store listing from yesterday, October 2, which included Band devices; today, October 3, references to the Band devices are gone from the company's Store sites. Microsoft also removed the Band software development kit (SDK) today, which isn't surprising given it's no longer selling Band 2 devices. Microsoft is believed to have disbanded the software team that was looking to bring Windows 10 to the Band a couple months ago. I've gotten various tips that at least some of the Band hardware team members have dispersed, too, with some moving to other Microsoft hardware teams inside the company. Even though sources of mine have said Microsoft is planning to phase out its fitness band devices and to have no plans to roll out a Band 3 device any time soon (or likely, ever), company officials still haven't completely conceded that it's the end of the line for Band. I asked again today and have yet to get an updated statement from the company regarding when and why Band devices were removed from Microsoft's online stores. A spokesperson sent me the following statement: "We have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year. We remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers through Microsoft Stores and our customer support channels and will continue to invest in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices."

Microsoft Could Bring Windows Hello To Android, iPhone ( 40

Microsoft may have plans to bring Windows Hello, one of the headline features of Microsoft's current operating system, to Android and iOS. Windows Hello is a feature that lets people unlock their PC with fingerprint, face, or iris. Paul Thurrott reports: With Windows 10 version 1607, Microsoft has expanded the Windows Hello authentication technologies to include support for companion devices. That we knew. But those companion devices, surprisingly, will include both Android and iPhone handsets. The question is whether those solutions will ever be made available to consumers.[...] On a Ignite 2016 session called Expand Windows Hello Family to companion devices and browser, Microsoft outlined some ideas around this. "When you think about a user and the kind of devices they carry with them," Microsoft senior program manager lead Anoosh Saboori said during the session, "they normally have the phone in their pocket, they [might] have some kind of wearable on their arm, some of them might have the security fobs given to them by their company, and many of us carry a badge with us that is used to gain access to different physical locations. We wanted to leverage these devices as a way to knowing the user."

Hack iOS 10, Get $1.5 Million 32

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: The stakes in the vulnerability acquisition and bug bounty game have just gone up several notches, with a well-known security startup now offering $1.5 million for a remote jailbreak in iOS 10.The payout was put on the table Thursday by Zerodium, a company that buys vulnerabilities and exploits for high-value target platforms and applications. The company has a set of standing prices for the information it will buy, which includes bugs and exploits for iOS, Android, Flash, Windows, and the major browsers, and the top tier of that list has been $500,000 for an iOS jailbreak. But that all changed on Thursday when Zerodium announced that the company has tripled the standing price for iOS to $1.5 million.
America Online

AOL's Innovative Card-Based Email Service, Alto, Comes To iOS And Android ( 42

Remember AOL? The company best known for its email service? Three years ago, it released a Pinterest-like platform for desktop email called Alto. Today AOL announced the release of Alto for iOS and Android -- nearly a year after it began beta testing it. FastCompany writes: The app's design is based on the idea that email has shifted from a communication tool to more of a transactional system -- today's inboxes are filled with receipts, order confirmations, and reservations, rather than personal messages. To combat this flood of data, Alto automatically sorts email into stacks, such as "travel," "photos," "files," "shopping," and "personal."

Aetna To Provide Apple Watch To 50,000 Employees, Subsidize Cost For Customers ( 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mac Rumors: Insurance company Aetna today announced a major health initiative centered on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, which will see Aetna subsidizing the cost of the Apple Watch for both large employers and individual customers. Starting this fall during open enrollment season, Aetna will subsidize "a significant portion" of the Apple Watch cost and will offer monthly payroll deductions to cover the remaining cost. Aetna also plans to provide Apple Watches at no cost to all of its nearly 50,000 employees as part of a wellness reimbursement program to encourage them to live healthier lives. Aetna plans to develop several iOS health initiatives with "support" from Apple, debuting "deeply integrated" health apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch that will be available to all Aetna customers. According to Aetna, these apps will "simplify the healthcare process" with features like care management to guide customers through a new diagnosis or a medication, medication reminders and tools for easy refills, quick contact with doctors, integration with Apple Wallet for paying bills and checking deductibles, and tools to help Aetna members get the most out of their insurance benefits. Aetna's health-related apps will be available starting in early 2017, but the Apple Watch initiative will begin in 2016. Aetna has not detailed how much of the cost will be subsidized or which Apple Watch models will be available to subscribers.

19-Year-Old Jailbreaks iPhone 7 In 24 Hours ( 97

An anonymous reader writes: 19-year-old hacker qwertyoruiop, aka Luca Todesco, jailbroke the new iPhone 7 just 24 hours after he got it, in what's the first known iPhone 7 jailbreak. Todesco tweeted a screenshot of a terminal where he has "root," alongside the message: "This is a jailbroken iPhone 7." He even has video proof of the jailbreak. Motherboard reports: "He also said that he could definitely submit the vulnerabilities he found to Apple, since they fall under the newly launched bug bounty, but he hasn't decided whether to do that yet. The hacker told me that he needs to polish the exploits a bit more to make the jailbreak 'smoother,' and that he is also planning to make this jailbreak work through the Safari browser just like the famous ',' which allowed anyone to jailbreak their iPhone 4 just by clicking on a link." Apple responded to the news by saying, "Apple strongly cautions against installing any software that hacks iOS."

Google Backs Off On Previously Announced Allo Privacy Feature ( 86

When Google first unveiled its Allo messaging app, the company said it would not keep a log of chats you have with people when in incognito mode. The company released Allo for iOS and Android users last night, and it seems it is reneging on some of those promises. The Verge reports:The version of Allo rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages by default -- a clear change from Google's earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app. Users can also avoid the logging by using Alo's Incognito Mode, which is still fully end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from the initial announcement. Like Hangouts and Gmail, Allo messages will still be encrypted between the device and Google servers, and stored on servers using encryption that leaves the messages accessible to Google's algorithms. According to Google, the change was made to improve the Allo assistant's smart reply feature, which generates suggested responses to a given conversation. Like most machine learning systems, the smart replies work better with more data. As the Allo team tested those replies, they decided the performance boost from permanently stored messages was worth giving up privacy benefits of transient storage.

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