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27
Feb

If Apple loses, your home could be the next thing that’s unlocked


In a recent interview about Apple’s ongoing legal battle with the Department of Justice, Tim Cook said that our smartphones have more information about us and our families than any other device we own. He’s right. And if the FBI is able to compel Apple or any company to circumvent a phone’s encryption, it would tap into a wealth of information. But it’s not just the tiny computers in our pocket we need to be concerned about. Your home and car tech could also be affected by the ruling if law enforcement deems it necessary.

Look around your home, office or car. How many microphones, cameras or sensors are pointed at you right now? Even if these devices are not connected to a service or server, they’re probably still there watching and listening. Hopefully the manufacturers did their jobs and all those eyes and ears are encrypted. But, if Apple is forced to help the FBI get into that iPhone, even that encryption won’t matter.

The Internet of Things have been a target of security researchers (and rightfully so), but that’s forced companies to make it a priority to secure these devices. Which is paramount because they record an incredible amount of information about you and your family. Cameras like the Nest Cam track who comes in and out of your home. Microphones embedded in devices like the Amazon Echo and smart TVs let you check the weather, change channels and order items with your voice.

James Arlen, director of risk for Leviathan Security Group is concerned with how that information will be used. “There is absolutely an issue. The world of consumer IoT – including wearables, cars and ‘things that live in my house’ – is the product of companies that are for the most part hoovering up huge gulps of personal data,” he told Engadget.

Both Amazon and Nest encrypt the data sent from their devices. Yet, if the Department of Justice gets its way, that’s just a minor inconvenience for law enforcement if you’re suspected of a crime.

Cars are just as connected as homes. Cameras and mics litter the interior of new vehicles. Voice control, gestures, even backup cameras could be sources of evidence against suspects, their friends and families. Like the makers of connected home items, automakers are doing their best to keep your data secure.

“We believe customers own their data. We are stewards of data, and we commit to protecting it,” Ford spokesperson Christin Baker told Engadget. But what’s the point, when an order from a judge can set all digital eyes on you for potentially even minor infractions.

If your first reaction is, “I’m not a terrorist, there’s no need to for me to worry,” realize it’s not just the FBI that wants to circumvent encryption. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr says the city has 175 iPhones with passcodes it wants to access. All the DA needs is a judge willing to make Apple unlock those devices.

Judges hold the power to set legal precedent. The reason to open a device or system could vary from region to region. In one state, a major felony could be what’s needed to unlock a piece of hardware. In another, it could be a misdemeanor.

We’ve drenched ourselves in technology to enhance our lives. It’s not 100 percent secure and we know it. We know hackers are out there trying their best to get into our stuff. But those are the bad guys. The government is supposed to be the good guys. When they start circumventing encryption, our homes and cars are no longer the safe havens we enjoy today and that’s frightening.

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27
Feb

Apple OS X 10.12 Fuji: What’s the story on the next Mac system update?


Apple typically unveils the next version of the Mac operating system at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference. And wouldn’t you know it – WWDC 2016 is right around the corner.

Although the company started shipping OS X 10.11 El Capitan just last autumn, rumours about the next system update are already beginning to surface. It’ll likely be labelled OS X 10.12, for instance, but it also currently goes by the codename Fuji. We’ve discussed these details and more, including some of the latest rumors of new features. So keep this page bookmarked.

Apple OS X 10.12: What will it be called?

Apple of course has not officially announced OS X 10.12, let alone a name for the system update. Several reports so far however have been calling it the codename “Fuji”. Keep in mind Apple usually sticks with California-themed monikers, and Fuji apples are frequently grown in the US state.

Apple OS X 10.12: When will it release?

New versions of OS X tend to release in the autumn, likely in September or October. We expect Apple to release Fuji during one of those months this year as well, but the company will probably give a demo of the new operating system at WWDC 2016 in June or July.

Apple OS X 10.12: How much will it cost?

Apple in recent years has given away all updates to OS X, so we expect the successor to El Capitan to be a free update as well.

Apple OS X 10.12: What could it feature?

Siri

According to 9to5Mac, Apple is working on a major update to OS X El Capitan called OS X 10.12. It’ll likely arrive this autumn with an impressive expansion of Siri capabilities. Siri, which debuted on the iPhone years ago, has since been added to iPad, Apple Watch, and most recently, the Apple TV. So it makes sense that Apple would want to bring its smart assistant to desktop machines.

Apple had been testing Siri integration since 2012 but only now has a better idea of how Siri can work on the Mac. The company has developed a slick user-interface and is almost ready to go public with it. In fact, Apple is expected to unveil OS X 10.12 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. During the demo, you can expect to see how Siri for Mac works and functions.

The feature is thought to live in the Mac’s Menu Bar as a Siri icon. It will support voice control, but when you click the icon, a dark Siri interface will appear in the top right corner of your screen. A mockup of this was supplied by 9to5Mac and can be seen below. It looks a lot like Siri on the iPhone and elsewhere, with colourful sound waves and all. Siri will also have a System Preferences pane so you can enable keyboard shortcuts.

There might be an option to enable a “Hey Siri” command under this pane, because – similar to Siri on the iPhone or even Alexa via the Amazon Echo speaker – Siri on the Mac will be always-listening when plugged into power.

Photos

According to Japanese site Mac Otakara, Apple is working on new versions of the Photos app for both iOS 10 and OS X 10.12.

The Photos app for iOS and OS X will be updated with features to bring them up to speed with the now-discontinued iPhoto 2.0.1 for iOS and iPhoto 9.6.1 for Mac, respectively. While the updated iOS app will have tools for editing EXIF data and touch-based brushes, we only know that the updated OS X app will have improvements (but don’t expect Aperture-level features to be added).

Apple OS X 10.12: What are the top wishlist features?

Here’s a list of features many people have long-requested from Apple, though there’s been no word yet to suggest they will be added to Fuji (once we hear more however, we’ll let you know):

  • Health app for OS X – There’s a Health app for iOS and Apple Watch but nothing for OS X. It’d be cool to track health stats from a desktop.
  • Apple Music App for OS X – The iTunes app needs to be refined, obviously, but apart from that, many people want Apple to break up iTunes into smaller apps, which includes offering a dedicated Apple Music app.
  • Clock App for OS X – A dedicated app with Alarm, Stopwatch, and Timer functionality would be so handy.

Apple OS X 10.12: Want to know more?

Check Pocket-lint’s Apple hub for more related news and analysis.

27
Feb

Scrubbing with a toothbrush that knows when you missed a spot


Mobile World Congress is predominantly about smartphones, however look hard enough and you’ll find all sorts of other surprises too. Take Oral-B, which chose Barcelona as the place to announce the B-Genius, a new toothbrush that knows exactly where you’re scrubbing. A built-in accelerometer clocks the angle, while your phone’s front-facing camera tracks its location and your dentures. As you brush, the companion app highlights the places you’ve cleaned and the spots you might have missed. So of course, we had to try it for ourselves and see if it’s worth the hassle.

Once you’ve stumbled into the bathroom, you’ll need to take out your phone and place it in one of Oral-B’s new cradles. It’s a simple piece of plastic with a pressurised suction cup that’s simple enough to attach to a bathroom mirror. The front-facing camera needs to be at eye-level, so you’ll probably need to remove the cradle after every use — that could be a pain, but luckily it doesn’t leave behind any marks or nasty gunk.

The toothbrush connects over Bluetooth and you can create a basic profile in the app, such as whether you have particularly sensitive teeth. Then you can pick a color for the light at the top of the handle (very important, of course) and start a new session. You’ll see a circle in the middle of the screen, which turns green when your face is being recognised by the camera. A line underneath does the same, indicating that the phone is roughly level, and then you’re ready to hit the button and start cleaning.

It’s a bunch of tiny steps that I imagine would aggravate my sleep-deprived brain each morning. Thankfully, the actual brushing experience is top-notch. The app uses a simple six-segment diagram, which represents the left, middle and right parts of your top and bottom choppers. As you scrub, the blue panels slowly disappear until it feels that you’ve cleaned thoroughly. Part of me wanted more detail — it would be great to know which particular teeth I’m missing — but in this case, less is probably more. I don’t think my brain wants that much information just after I wake up.

The Genius-B comes with the same tricks found in some of Oral-B’s other “smart” toothbrushes. There are pressure sensors to stop you from brushing too vigorously (a common problem, I’ve been told) and a timer to make sure you clean for the dentist-recommended two minutes.

Once I had finished, the app gave me a simple score grading my technique. It was a novel, but unsurprising analysis of my wonky teeth-cleaning habits. I’m intrigued by the general concept — I want to know if I’m brushing my teeth properly — but pairing the device with my phone and setting up the app felt like a chore. Although I care about my dental health, I think a bare-bones electric toothbrush is just fine for me right now.

27
Feb

Discogs’ vinyl-tracking app goes wide February 29th


Whether you call it “vinyl,” “wax,” “black crack” or something else entirely, we can all agree that poring over shelves for new records can be a time-consuming, but ultimately rewarding, process. And now, the folks at Discogs are making it easier to see if that copy of the Lost Highway soundtrack you found is the real deal or just another bootleg. Come Monday, the internet’s preeminent destination for music collectors is taking its iOS app out of beta.

Searching for a record is as simple as scanning its barcode with your phone’s camera, and managing your collection via the free app is pretty intuitive as well. From a search results screen, just drag to the right to either add to your want list or collection — similar to how the Amazon app works for purchases. Oh, and marketplace pricing is front and center for any given LP so making sure you aren’t getting ripped off while crate-digging on vacation is as easy as possible.

Discogs is leaning heavily on its users to drive feature additions for the app, and native marketplace integration currently leads the request list. Why’s that? Because for now, making a purchase redirects to the mobile website. It’s still a bit janky in that regard. The outfit says that it should go live in the App Store sometime Monday morning Pacific Time.

Source: Discogs

27
Feb

MWC Revisited: The best of the rest


We’ve seen smartphones, wearables and tablets galore here at Mobile World Congress, plastered with mucky fingerprints and goodness knows what else over the week on the show floor. But, that’s not all. During our travels we’ve also discovered some weird and wonderful products that require a roundup of their own. So without further ado, here’s the “best of the rest,” a collection of the good, the bad and the downright strange that didn’t make our other catchup pieces.

27
Feb

Watch the Engadget staff on: Online streaming


With the Academy Awards less than 48 hours away, the Engadget staff sat down to talk all things streaming. Our intrepid editors discuss their favorite services, cop to still subscribing to cable and posit whether an online original like Beasts of No Nation could actually win at the Oscars. Here’s what they had to say.

27
Feb

5G was the real star of Mobile World Congress


Expect 2016 to be the year when all of the talk around 5G starts to feel like more than hype. It seemed as if the big tech companies couldn’t shut up about it at Mobile World Congress this week — and for good reason. It’s been over six years since LTE 4G started rolling out, and a finalized 5G standard is expected to arrive around 2018. Now’s the time to start exploring the new frontier if you’ve got a stake in mobile. Naturally, there were plenty of demos and jargon-filled press releases around 5G during the show. But there were also some impressive demos and a palpable excitement in the air for what’s to come next.

So what is 5G, exactly? Right now, for lack of a genuine standard, it’s mainly just a concept. Broadly, it describes the next generation of wireless networks that will reach speeds at least ten times faster than LTE, with near instant latency in some cases. Most companies are looking into millimeter wave technology to achieve faster network speeds, but they’re still looking into uses for the spectrum below 6 GHz, which we’re already using today. LTE won’t be going away anytime soon — it’ll be backwards compatible with 5G, and some implementations might still rely on it for data. (LTE speeds will continually improve over the next few years before 5G actually gets into action.)

For the most part, the big advantage with 5G will be its flexibility, as carriers will be able to adapt it to suit specific needs. Things like smart home devices and connected cars, for example, might tap into a portion of the network with slower data speeds, but which makes up for that with incredibly low latency of under a millisecond. 5G could also be used to deploy broadband more easily to rural areas using millimeter wave technology. The wireless internet provider Starry is using the same technology, and some people I’ve talked to in the industry consider it to be a sort of proto-5G network.

One of Intel’s millimeter wave chips.

None of this is exactly new, but at MWC there was far more commitment to 5G than ever before. Intel announced that it’s lined up a bunch of new partners — including AT&T, Verizon and Ericsson — and it’s also working closely with standards groups. The big takeaway: Intel will actually be working with the rest of the industry, rather than trying to push it’s own technology (which would have been a repeat of the WiMax 4G fiasco).

“I think companies like Intel and Samsung, they learned a lesson [with 4G’s rollout] that… doing something that doesn’t have big ecosystem is not something that operators want,” said Ozge Koymen, principal engineer at Qualcomm. “They want to be able to buy Nokia, Ericsson and other vendors and have them talk to different vendors.”

At its booth, Intel demoed several 360-degree videos running at once on its testbed 5G platform, using around 2 Gbps worth of bandwidth. There was also a “Massive MIMO” demo, an evolution of existing MIMO (multiple input multiple output) networking tech, which lets up to 64 antennas push data to a single access point. That’s what will keep 5G networks from feeling too congested — you’ll basically be guaranteed faster speeds. One longtime Intel engineer, who wouldn’t go on record, said there was plenty more excitement at the company around the launch of 5G, compared to what it went through with 4G.

Intel was’t the only 5G star of the show (though it had one the largest and most elaborate booths). Samsung and Deutsche Telekom built an elaborate setup with a robot arm to show off the benefits of low-latency 5G. You can see that in action in the video above, but basically the arm was only able to catch a falling ball that was tracked by a 5G network, while it continually missed another ball tracked by a higher latency 4G LTE network.

When will we actually see 5G networks rolling out? Based on discussions with people from several companies, nobody is expecting much until around 2020. While plenty of companies are testing out their wares now, they’re still just prototype implementations. They can’t really get into gear until 5G standards are settled, and that’s not going to happen for at least another two years.

Nokia used autonomous toy cars to show off 5G.

Even if 5G lives up to all the hype, it’ll likely still be limited by wireless data caps. Which, basically, is like having a Ferrari that you can only drive around the block once a day. None of the carriers I talked to at the show had much to say about 5G plans, but Qualcomm’s Koymen expects them to expand their data limits. Really though, that’s the least they could do. With 3G and 4G, carriers learned that it was simply very hard (and expensive) to offer unlimited data. But 5G might actually make that dream a reality.

27
Feb

Security Update Breaks Ethernet Port on iMacs and MacBook Pros


As reported on the MacRumors forums and Reddit, a recent Apple security update has disabled the ethernet port on some iMacs and MacBook Pros. zorinlynx writes:

This software update was pushed via the silent “security updates” to my iMac today:

031-51913 | Incompatible Kernel Extension Configuration Data 3.28.1

After rebooting my ethernet didn’t work. Turns out that it added an exclusion for the stock AppleBCM5701Ethernet driver! This breaks ethernet and you have to use WiFi to get online.

The experience was mirrored by several other readers. Apple appears to have already replaced the faulty update, but there doesn’t appear to be an obvious solution for those affected.
Discuss this article in our forums

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27
Feb

Samsung Level U Pro review – CNET


The Good The Samsung Level U Pro is a lightweight, sweat-resistant wireless Bluetooth headphone offers offers a comfortable fit and is one of the better sounding Bluetooth headphones with an around-the-neck design. It vibrates when a call comes in and has well-placed buttons.

The Bad Buds look and feel a little cheap. It would have been nice if Samsung had included its Stabilizing Wing Ear Gels to lock the ‘buds in your ears while running. There’s a bit of treble push.

The Bottom Line Despite a few small downsides, the Samsung Level U Pro is one of the better sounding collar-style Bluetooth headphones and offers a comfortable fit.

LG remains the sales leader in collar-style “neckband” wireless Bluetooth headphones, but plenty of competitors are available, including Samsung’s Level U Pro ($100; £120; AU$130). This is a noise-isolating headphone, which means you jam the tips into your ear canal and seal out the outside world. That’s different from the more affordable Level U, which has buds that sit loosely in your ears, like Bose’s SoundTrue In-Ear wired headphone.

As with all Bluetooth headphones, the Level U Pro connects wirelessly to your smartphone (or tablet), doubling up for enjoying music and as a headset for taking calls.

samsung-level-u-pro-12.jpg

The Level U Pro features a noise-isolating design (you jam the tips into your ear canal).


Joshua Goldman/CNET

A set of buttons on the right side of the neck band allow you to pause and play your music, answer/end calls, skip tracks forward and back and raise and lower the volume. The buttons are well placed and easy enough to operate by feel alone.

Like the aforementioned LG Tone headphones, the Level U Pro’s earbuds are magnetic and clasp together to help “reduce clutter when not in use.” However, they don’t retract like they do on some LG collar-style headphones. When I wasn’t using them, I often left the buds dangling on my chest, unclasped, and sometimes forgot I was wearing the headphone (it’s lightweight). And that’s why people like this type of Bluetooth headphone: You simply leave it around your neck and stick the earbuds — or often just a single bud if you’re taking a call — in your ears when you need to.

samsung-level-u-pro-7.jpgsamsung-level-u-pro-7.jpg

The ‘buds adhere magnetically.


Joshua Goldman/CNET

If you do have a Samsung phone, this does support Samsung’s UHQ Audio standard, which is supposed to provide (wait for it) “Ultra-High Quality” Audio over Bluetooth. The jury’s out on how much of a difference it actually makes, but it’s a small plus to use the headset with one of Samsung’s latest Galaxy phones that support UHQ Audio.

It’s also worth noting that if you have an Android phone, you can download the free Level App to access and control advanced settings of the headphones which include the ability to have the headphones read text notifications to you. There’s also a volume monitor and an equalizer that allows you to tweak the sound.

As for other extras, the headset is water-resistant (the standard Level U isn’t). Battery life is rated at 9 hours for music playback at moderate volume levels. That’s decent though not exceptionally good.

27
Feb

Gourmia GKM9000 Multi-Cooker Kitchen Machine Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


In a case of “more is more,” a small appliance company has created countertop multicooker with more than nine functions, Wi-Fi connectivity and an Android-powered operating system in a bid to connect the kitchen to the Internet of Things.

gourmia-gkm9000.jpg

The Gourmia GKM9000 multicooker kitchen machine includes a 7-inch LCD display that will play video instructions for recipes.


Gourmia

Gourmia will debut the GKM9000 multicooker kitchen machine next month at the International Home + Housewares Show, a trade show dedicated to home goods. The Gourmia GKM9000 will include a 7-inch LCD screen that displays step-by-step video instructions to guide you through recipes and provides update on the progress of your meal. The $600 appliance also connects to a mobile app that keeps an eye on what’s happening in the cooker, along with letting you download and create recipes and shopping lists. The multicooker will be available in the spring.

Small, countertop appliances have become the first step in getting the kitchen connected. They’re a lot cheaper than smart large appliances such as ovens or refrigerators, and there’s a larger variety of products available. Though smart large appliances are on the cusp of being the next big thing, connected countertop devices such as Wi-Fi sous vide machines and app-enabled kitchen scales have become an easy access point for folks who want a smart cooking experience.

Other Smart Small Appliances
  • Paragon Induction Cooktop puts sous-vide power in every pot (hands-on)
  • Anova Precision Cooker Bluetooth + Wi-Fi review
  • Perfect Bake Pro review

The Gourmia GKM9000 will run on an Android operating system, so the appliance can connect with other platform, Gourmia says. The company is still working on partnerships with other platforms.

You can get a multicooker for much less than this $600 device, so the Gourmia needs successful integration with other Internet of Things devices to convince home cooks that this is a product worth having. I’ll get hands-on with the product at the International Home + Housewares Show on March 5, so check back for updates on the Gourmia.

Features

  • Includes built-in scale that can track how much of an ingredient you’re adding to walk you through recipes
  • Functions include: steam, blend, puree, chop, grind, knead, whip, grate, crunch
  • Can also cook pasta and rice
  • 3.5-quart capacity
  • Includes blade and whisk attachments
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