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Apple Watch Pop Up Shop at Galeries Lafayette in Paris Shuts Down

Following the closure of the Apple Watch pop up shop at Selfridges department store in London earlier this month, the shop at Galeries Lafayette in Paris has apparently also shut down, as Apple has removed its entry from the company’s list of retail stores.

The closure of the Galeries Lafayette shop this month was rumored back in October, and it leaves the Isetan Shinjuku location in Tokyo as the only remaining Apple Watch pop up shop.

Apple opened the trio of Apple Watch pop up shops in April 2015 at the luxury retailers as part of the company’s initial efforts to position the watch as a fashion item, with gold Apple Watch Edition models selling for as much as $17,000.

Apple has since toned down the luxury aspects of Apple Watch marketing, focusing more on health, fitness, and convenience features for the average user. With the launch of Apple Watch Series 2 last September, Apple did away with the luxury gold Edition line, replacing it with new ceramic Edition models topping out at $1,300.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Snowden’s preferred email provider, Lavabit, has been resurrected

Lavabit, the encrypted email provider Edward Snowden favored, has risen from the ashes with more security features than before. If you’ll recall, company chief Ladar Levison shut it down in 2013 instead of complying with the government’s demand to hand over its SSL encryption key. Authorities targeted the provider in order to get to the whistleblower’s communications, but a gag order prevented Lavabit from confirming that was the case until last year. In order to ensure its users’ privacy, the resurrected Lavabit uses a new architecture that physically prevents the company from handing over its SSL key.

Lavabit now stores the key in a tamper-resistant device. The service automatically generates a long passphrase that the company won’t be able to see, inserts the key into the device and then destroys the passphrase. A developer for the company told The Intercept that “Once it’s in there, we cannot pull that SSL key back out.”

At the moment, the service is only open to previous users who were suddenly locked out of their accounts due to its sudden death. They likely won’t be able to retrieve their old emails anymore, but they can now continue using their Lavabit account. The company will eventually start accepting new users, though, and they’ll be able to choose between three modes: Trustful, Cautious and Paranoid.

The least secure option encrypts emails on the company’s server, while Cautious will offer end-to-end encryption. Those who prefer the latter will have to install the client software on their devices to be able to generate an encryption key. But since Cautious still stores the key in the company’s server and that might not be enough for some people, the service came up with Paranoid mode. It stores the key on the users’ devices instead, and people will have to manually transfer it if they want to use another device. Plus, if they lose the key, it’s gone for good.

In addition to three security tiers, the new Lavabit has a feature called Dark Mail to encrypt every email’s metadata. It also prevents the sender’s ISP from knowing the email’s recipient and the recipient’s ISP from knowing the sender’s. The company didn’t say when it will start welcoming new sign ups, but you can pre-register for an account right now on Lavabit’s website.

Source: The Intercept, Lavabit


Tesla’s big Autopilot update is now active on newer cars

Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot has been months in the making, but it’s finally here — no, for real this time. After days of laying dormant, the upgrade is now active for all HW2-era (that is, self-driving capable) Model S and Model X vehicles with Autopilot enabled. You may need to have Tesla technicians modify your camera angles first (the car will tell you if this is the case), but you’re otherwise golden. Provided it works as promised, it should give you a more sophisticated take on semi-autonomy.

As the name implies, the new Autopilot is less about reinventing the system as adding meaningful upgrades. Autosteer is better at navigating tricky roads, for instance, while Smart Summon isn’t limited to moving your car in a straight line (think curved driveways). There’s even an automatic lane change feature that will help you get around slow-moving traffic on the highway. Not all of the Enhanced Autopilot features will necessarily be active right away, but you’ll likely notice the difference if you’re an owner.

Autopilot for HW2 rolling out to all HW2 cars today. Please be cautious. Some cars will require adjustment of camera pitch angle by service.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 21, 2017

Source: Elon Musk (Twitter)


The problem with Android permissions is too much information and not enough information all at once


People freaking out over an Android app’s permissions again was overdue.

It’s a regular happening in the tech press. An app has questionable permissions and people freak out about it. Sometimes it’s warranted, but most of the time it’s because the people freaking out don’t understand the Android permission model or haven’t taken the time to see what reasons an app might have to need those seemingly sketchy permissions. And it’s Google’s fault. Sorry, Google, we love you, but this is all yours.

There are two ways to handle letting the user (that’s you and me) know what an app needs to do or needs to see in order to function. One way is to plainly state everything up front before that user installs it so they know exactly what can be done and seen. In other words, the Android way (mostly). Another way is to carefully screen each and every app and have the user trust your screening process and know that the app isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. This is the Apple way. Both are good in some ways and bad in some ways.

It’s Serenity and crew’s job at iMore to tackle iOS issues on this front if it needs tackling— they’re more knowledgeable about them than I am — but we really need to talk about Android permissions here and why they need some attention from big G.


I’m going to pick on our own Android Central app here because I can look through the code or build it myself and know exactly what it does, what it can do, and why. Let’s start with what makes people freak out because there is a good example right in the picture above — prevent device from sleeping.

Why in the hell does an app to read a blog need to keep your phone locked awake? I don’t blame you at all if this is the first thing you think. In fact, I want it to be the first thing everyone thinks because we all need to be a little skeptical when it comes to software that we install on our phones. But our app has no intention of keeping your phone running all the time, and unless there’s a bug somewhere it doesn’t. We need that permission so that the screen doesn’t shut off while you’re reading this.

Tell us what those permissions mean and we’ll freak out less.

There are two very big issues here that Google can fix. One is hard but the other is easy, Like delicious pie easy. The hard one is to continue building out the APIs until we have one that can only keep the screen on. Let background data and everything else sleep until it’s used and keep the CPU idling unless it needs to ramp up for something else a user is doing. That’s all we’re using the prevent device from sleeping permission for anyway. If Google makes that API, we’ll switch to it. Until then, we need permission to keep your whole phone up and running even when we’re not doing anything in the background.

The second and easier thing that needs to be done is to give more information here. Once you decide that you’re going to give the user all the info about which permissions an app needs, you need to go a step further when you list them. What we have right now is either too much information or not enough information.

I am a nerd. I don’t even try to hide it. Plenty of the people reading this will also be nerds. What we see now on Google Play when permissions are shown was written by nerds for nerds. I understand it, my fellow nerds understand it, but a normal person who just wants to install a cool new app might not. Consider this:

  • Prevent your device from sleeping. This application needs to keep your phone from going into a sleep state. This can only happen while the app is running and shown on your screen and may not be processor intensive. If you have any questions you should ask the developer using the contact information at the bottom of the page.

That took me like 30 seconds to bang out on my keyboard. (And 20 more to fix the typos because I think I can type really fast without looking at my keyboard but I actually can’t.) It’s not the greatest explanation of what this permission might mean, but it’s a metric shitload better that what we have now. The people at Google are way smarter about Android than I am (but I challenge any and all comers to test my knowledge on Dunmer lore) and could do this even better. If they did, it would help people who actually bother to read the permissions when they see Twitter melting about an app needing GPS data because it’s a free ad-driven app that needs GPS to show you those “relevant” Target ads when you’re in the Target parking lot.

The Android permission model needs to be refined and explained. And not by nerds.

This isn’t a new problem. Since Android became popular people have seen too much information about needed permissions without enough information about those permissions and what they mean. Then they (rightfully) freak out about it. I enjoy those freakouts. I get to sit back and watch people actually care about mobile security and their precious personal data for a day or two. But the app developers surely aren’t very happy when it happens to them, and they are the reason Android is as popular as it is.

So how ’bout it Google? Can you make a change to give us everything we need to know when we actually look at an app’s permissions without going to the Android Developer site and reading a bunch of documentation about them? We’ll love you more.


Apple is reportedly reinventing the iPhone’s fingerprint reader

Future iPhones may revolve around more than just an eye-catching curved display. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who frequently (though not always) has a knack for hardware scoops, believes that Apple is designing a whole new Touch ID fingerprint reader for future iPhones and iPads. In order for Apple to virtually eliminate bezels, it needs a reader that sits under the screen — and that means a brand new optical sensor. Development is underway, the analyst says, but development is still early enough that the technology might not be ready in time for the 2017 iPhone.

You might not even need a fingerprint sensor in the future, though. Kuo claims that Apple is looking at using face recognition (not just iris recognition) as a part of the next iPhone’s features, and may even scrap Touch ID in the long run. Face recognition isn’t new (just ask anyone using Android since 4.0), but it would have to be advanced if people are going to ditch fingerprint reading entirely. It couldn’t be fooled by a photo, for instance, and would have to be both very fast and adaptable to a wide range of conditions. You don’t want to have to enter your PIN just because it’s too dark.

Biometrics might not be the only area getting an overhaul thanks to the reported new screen. Kuo understands that the iPhone 7’s existing approach to 3D Touch won’t work with the next iPhone’s curved OLED panel, prompting a switch to a “film sensor.” The change would lead to greater sensitivity and more pressure levels, so you might not have to jab the screen quite so authoritatively as you do today.

As always, it’s important to take these claims with a grain of salt. Analysts can have the inside track on future products thanks to suppliers, but they may have incomplete info or discuss features that are subject to change. Don’t be alarmed if these features don’t make the cut, or if they show up in ways you didn’t expect. If there’s any credibility to the reports, though, unlocking and interacting with your iPhone may be much easier in the near future.

Source: 9to5Mac (1)


Google rolls out Instant Tethering for your Android devices

The latest version of Google Play Services comes with a feature that can ensure all your devices are always online. Austrian journalist Andreas Proschofsky has posted a screenshot on his Google+ account showing a new feature called “Instant Tethering.” So long as you use one Google account for all your devices, you can program them to automatically create a hotspot connection to a phone with mobile data. Unfortunately, this is a limited rollout, so you might not be able to see the option even if you’ve already updated your phone or tablet.

According to Android Police, only Nexus and Pixel devices running Android Nougat 7.1.1 can access it for now. Further, both Pixel C and Nexus 9 tablets can only connect to a phone with data — you can’t use them as a WiFi hotspot, though they can take advantage of the feature even if you haven’t upgraded since Marshmallow. Compatible phones like the Pixel XL can connect to each other’s mobile internet with no issue unless your carrier blocks the feature. Since Instant Tethering will likely roll out to more devices in the future, make sure to check Play Services every now and then.

[Image credit: Andreas Proschofsky]

Source: Andreas Proschofsky (Google+), Android Police


Meitu — What you need to know about privacy and the filtering app

[record scratch]
[freeze frame]
[shot of Phil in Meitu app]

Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up here …

Every now and then we get hit with an app that seems to just take over. The latest — and god help me, I’m about to talk about selfies — is called Meitu. There’s almost no way that you haven’t seen it — or at least the results from it — in the past week or so.

It’s one of those apps that takes your pictures and filters the hell out of them until you get something that looks like you, but not you. ln this case, you get a sort of China doll thing. It’s available for iOS (in the App Store) and Android (on Google Play), and there’s a good chance you’ve already seen it being shared all over Facebook and Instagram.

But you might want to think twice before you install it.

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So here’s the gist. You take a picture either with the Meitu app, or use one you’ve already snapped. The app then makeups the hell out of you in a LOT of different ways. The kids love this stuff. The cool new feature everyone’s talking about, though, is the “hand-drawn” filter. It’ll take a shot of you — or someone else — and change you up.

And that’s great. It’s a lot of fun. I feel pretty already.

But there’s also a reason why you might not want to install Meitu.

Apps that are loaded up with tracking code — analytics — aren’t anything new. Pretty much every single app (or website) you’ve ever used has had some sort of analytics tracking built in. Developers need to know how their products are being used. But questions have been raised about the way they’re implemented in Meitu, and rightly so. Particularly because it harvests your phone’s unique IMEI number. There are better and less-sensitive ways to identify a device.

For its part, Meitu has said that the red flags are because the app originally was coded for use in China, which has to do things behind a government-controlled firewall. Fair enough. But that doesn’t mean that’s the right way to code things for the rest of the world. Ultimately, you’re giving access to a lot of your data just slap some makeup on your mug. Choose wisely, and stay vigilant.


An electric scooter is the perfect vehicle for quick jaunts

We have a plethora of options for getting around in an urban area. Buses, taxis, Uber, monorails, light rail and dirigibles (well, probably not the last one) make travel in big cities easier. But for those looking for a bit more freedom and fun, there’s are motorized two-wheeled options: motorcycles and scooters. While electric motorcycles are still a bit pricey (but exciting to ride), scooters that need to be plugged in instead of gassed up are appearing on the streets in larger numbers. So how useful are these battery-powered bikes? I decided to test the $3,000 Mahindra Genze 2.0 in Las Vegas during CES earlier this month to see if I would miss hitting the pump.

The annual CES gadget extravaganza extends beyond the Las Vegas Convention Center, spanning almost the entire city with events and vendors setting up shop at various casinos and centers. For myself and other attendees, that means long taxi lines, Uber and Lyft drivers “getting lost,” and one limited monorail system. None are especially reliable when you you’re in a hurry. So when given the chance to ride an electric scooter the entire week I was in Vegas, I jumped at the opportunity.


I quickly realized I had made the right decision. The Genze might only have a range of about 30 miles, and its top speed is just 30 miles per hour, but it made getting places a joy instead of an anxiety-inducing affair.

On my first trip I started up the bike with a PIN, put on a helmet and rode off toward the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Its torque behind its silent acceleration won’t win any awards, but on surface streets it’s enough to keep you from getting run down by cars. Everything’s going great until you hit that top speed. I’ve noted this before, but if you’re used to riding a motorcycle or scooter, Genze’s top speed of 30 miles per hour can be jarring. The scooter maker places this limit on the bike so it can be sold to riders without a motorcycle license. Most of the time this wasn’t an issue, but I did end up on a few roadways where the top speed was 45 miles per hour and I felt guilty for impeding traffic.

But when I wasn’t blocking traffic, I was happy to be making my way toward my destination on my own terms. The extremely upright sitting position of the bike takes a few miles to get used to. After that, navigating through traffic (but not lane splitting, which is illegal in Nevada) was a breeze. One thing I did appreciate is how comfortable the seat was. It’s cushier than what you’ll find on most scooters and motorcycles and really, after a long day of sitting on the floor of a convention center or on a folding chair, anything remotely comfortable is appreciated.


The large “trunk” was also a welcome addition. I could throw my backpack into it during rides knowing that its deep recess and my relatively low speed would prevent items from popping out onto the street. While it’s nice the vehicle offers more storage than the average scooter or motorcycle, I still have one complaint: There’s no way to lock your helmet to the bike. Sure, you can buy aftermarket locks, but this nonetheless seems like an oversight. I was using Genze’s helmet and I made it look like it was locked to the bike when it was parked. In reality, though, anyone could have walked by and taken it. The problem is, I wasn’t about to lug it around to all my meetings and events.

And there were oh-so many meetings and events. This was CES, after all. Traversing the strip and points beyond generally wasn’t too taxing on the battery. But there was one day when I had to ride up past downtown Las Vegas after making a few trips between casinos. The bike does have an Eco mode with a 30-mile range. But I’d rather have quicker acceleration so I spent nearly the entire time in the quicker-off-the-line Sport mode. That left me with a range of about 20 miles on a day when I traveled about 19. I ended the evening wondering if I would have to call for a ride. But the scooter ultimately summoned the juice I needed and got me back to my hotel with charge to spare.

That experience is a reminder that I couldn’t just pull into a Chevron station, gas up and continue on my journey. With any electric vehicle, the owner needs to know the limits of its range. While commuting with the Genze would be no problem for me in San Francisco, any after-work leisure rides would require me to charge the battery at work.

The Genze battery pack is removable and can be plugged into any outlet. Like the Zero motorcycles, it takes a standard three-prong power cable. The port can be accessed without removing the battery so the bike can be charged in garages. And while removing the battery is a simple affair, it’s best done in daylight the first time you do it. After unlocking it, the giant block of electrons has a lever that you can’t see at 11pm in a dark hotel parking lot. Once I found it the first time, I could have located it blindfolded. Just be prepared for its considerable heft. Genze says it’s less than 30 pounds, which I can only assume means it weighs 29.9999 pounds.


Basically, this thing is heavy. And after a hard day at work, it feels even heavier. Placing it back in the bike is easy, at least. Just slide it in the bottom and push it up. Easy peasy; not stressful.

And that’s actually pretty much how the entire week went. The Genze made my week at CES less hectic, and for those 15- to 30 -minute rides between meetings I felt temporarily off the grid — no small feat at the country’s biggest tech show.

While it’s not quite up to par with its gasoline-based counterparts, the Genze electric scooter is a great way to get around a dense urban environment for those ready to make the electric plunge, but don’t want to make a huge investment in an electric car or motorcycle. Its low speed means anyone with a license can buy and ride it. (Although I advise that everyone riding a scooter or motorcycle take a safety class.) The trunk is also great for shopping, and the battery (while heavy) is easy to charge at the home or office. I would not recommend it outside of a dense city or if you’re daily ride is only a few miles roundtrip. But if you want to take full control of your transportation and you can deal with being unconnected for at least a few minutes, the Genze is worth checking out.


Shia LaBeouf starts a 4-year livestream to protest Trump

If you were determined to make a political protest through art, and had the luxuries of both fame and modern technology? For Shia LaBeouf, it’s simple: start an ambitious livestreaming project. The actor (along with Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner) just launched He Will Not Divide Us, a project outside New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image that will protest Donald Trump by livestreaming public voices for the next 4 years. (Clearly, Shia’s not banking on Trump getting a second term.) You’re encouraged to recite the project’s namesake phrase in a show of solidarity and resistance. It’s getting an extra celebrity endorsement thanks to Jaden Smith, who has participated in some of the early streaming.

It’s not LaBeouf’s first time with long-running art experiments, or even long internet streams. He once ran a 72-hour screening of his movies in a New York theater, hitchhiked around the country using tweeted GPS coordinates and livestreamed an all-day elevator ride.

A 4-year stream is another matter entirely, however, and it’s easy to see potential problems. How long will the camera and its wall remain untouched by vandals, for instance? And while the project is getting a lot of attention on inauguration weekend, will it get more than occasional shouts in the years ahead? It’s an interesting approach to participatory artwork — we just wouldn’t count on it being a massive success.

Museum of the Moving Image, New York

— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) January 20, 2017

Via: Variety

Source: He Will Not Divide Us, Shia LaBeouf (Twitter)

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