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14
Jun

ElcomSoft’s Latest Tool Can Allegedly Access iMessages in iCloud, But Only in Extreme Circumstances


Russian company ElcomSoft today claimed that the latest version of its Phone Breaker software can remotely access iMessage conversation histories stored in iCloud, although there are several strings attached.

Namely, the person attempting to extract iMessages from an iCloud account would need the following before being able to do so:

  • Elcomsoft Phone Breaker version 8.3
  • The associated Apple ID email and password for the iCloud account
  • The passcode, if an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or system password, if a Mac, of at least one device on the account enrolled in Messages in iCloud, which requires iOS 11.4 and macOS 10.13.5 or later
  • Access to a two-factor authentication method, such as a trusted secondary device, which may or may not have the same passcode or system password, or a SIM card for a phone number that has been authorized to receive one-time verification codes via SMS

It’s worth noting that if the perpetrator has obtained physical access to at least one of your trusted secondary devices, and its passcode, they would be able to read at least part of your iMessage history regardless by simply opening the Messages app.

Apple obviously cares very deeply about the security of its customers, but if a bad actor has gained access to another person’s Apple ID credentials, your passcode, and at least one of your Apple devices, or your SIM card, there arguably isn’t really much the company can do at that point to protect you.

That’s why it’s so important, as Apple routinely stresses, to set a strong password for your Apple ID, not share that password with others, enable two-factor authentication, and keep careful possession of your devices. It also helps to set a strong alphanumeric passcode on an iOS device, rather than a four-digit one.

Apple says iMessages are protected with end-to-end encryption, and notes that messages can’t be accessed by anyone without your device passcode. As an additional safeguard, Apple requires that users have two-factor authentication turned on for their Apple ID accounts to enable Messages in iCloud.


ElcomSoft’s tool seems to be taking advantage of the fact that, if iCloud Backups are turned on, a copy of the encryption key protecting iMessages is included in the backup, according to a support document on Apple’s website:

If you have iCloud Backup turned on, a copy of the key protecting your Messages is included in your backup. This ensures you can recover your Messages if you’ve lost access to iCloud Keychain and your trusted devices. When you turn off iCloud Backup, a new key is generated on your device to protect future messages and it is not stored by Apple.

Given the extenuating circumstances required, the vast majority of users shouldn’t have anything to worry about. But it’s a good reminder to maintain strong security practices on all of your devices to stay safe.

Tags: security, iMessage, ElcomSoft
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14
Jun

Valve Removes Game Purchasing Option From Steam Link in Hopes of App Store Approval


A few weeks after Apple rejected Valve’s planned Steam Link app due to App Store review guideline violations related to in-app purchases, among other things, the company has made a key change to the app in hopes of getting it approved.

Namely, in the latest beta version of Steam Link on TestFlight, Valve has removed the option to purchase games within the app. Instead, the app now informs users that games are available to purchase on a PC, or Mac, according to Eli Hodapp, editor-in-chief of MacRumors sister website TouchArcade.

Moments ago, Valve pushed out an updated version of the Steam Link app to TestFlight testers which […] removed the ability to buy anything through the actual app itself. When you connect to your PC via the Steam Link app and browse the store, the button you used to be able to push to buy things has been changed to say “Available to purchase from your PC.”

Shortly after Steam Link was rejected, Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller explained that it had “discussed these issues with Valve” and would “continue to work with them to help bring the Steam experience to iOS and Apple TV in a way that complies with the store’s guidelines,” in an email shared by MacStories.

Steam Link app now says games are available to purchase on PC
Steam Link, unveiled early last month, will allow users to stream Steam games to an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV from a Mac or PC via a 5GHz Wi-Fi network or a wired Ethernet connection. The app, originally set to launch May 21, will include support for both the Steam Controller and Made for iPhone controllers.

In his hands-on last month, Hodapp said the app works so well that “it feels like there’s some kind of actual wizardry powering it all.”

If you’re the kind of person who is always hungry for “real” PC-like game experiences on your Apple device, but have been dismayed by the amount of junk on the App Store, you can basically delete everything else but the Steam Link app. I’m still dumbfounded by Apple apparently allowing this on their platform, as I could see a very real situation where many people just straight up stop buying things from the App Store and exclusively purchase Steam games through Valve instead.

Valve hasn’t specified when it will resubmit Steam Link to Apple for reconsideration, and it remains to be seen if the change will satisfy Apple’s guidelines, but it sounds like the app is one step closer to being released on the App Store.

Tags: TouchArcade, Valve, Steam
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14
Jun

Apple Store Gains Exclusive Accessories From Cycling Brand Rapha


An exclusive collection of backpacks, messenger bags, sleeves, and more from cycling brand Rapha is now available from the online Apple Store and, starting tomorrow, Apple retail stores.

Apple recently started carrying a selection of cycling gear like the SmartHalo Bike System and the Lumos Smart Bike Helmet, and it’s now expanding that lineup with Rapha’s accessories.

The Rapha collection includes accessories that range from a $130 Mini Messenger Bag to a $150 Convertible Backpack to $65-$70 sleeves for the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iPad Pro.


All of the accessories are available in blue, black, or yellow with perforated accent striping, and are made from what Rapha says are “high-quality hardest-wearing Italian fabrics” that have been treated with Durable Water Repellent and “tested in extreme conditions.”


The Mini Messenger Bag and the Backpack include magnetic clasps that are designed to allow the bags to be attached to the handlebar of the bike, while the device cases include padding to keep your iPad or Mac safe. All accessories also have AquaGuard zippers in addition to the water repellent treatment to make them rain and spill resistant.

Apple’s full selection of Rapha-branded accessories are available from the online Apple Store starting today.

Tag: Apple retail
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14
Jun

Hands-on: The controversial Xiaomi Mi 8 offers incredible value for money


Xiaomi announced the Mi 8 a couple of weeks ago, sporting some specs that would probably make you raise an eyebrow.

The Mi 8 comes in three variants: First up, the “regular” Xiaomi Mi 8, then the Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition, which is very similar to the Mi 8, but comes with a see-through glass back, pressure-sensitive in-display fingerprint scanner, and 3D face unlock. Finally, the Mi 8 SE is a cheaper, smaller variant with a 5.88-inch screen and Snapdragon 710 processor, versus the 6.21-inch/Snapdragon 845 on the larger Mi 8 and Mi 8 Explorer Edition.

That is some serious bang for your buck, and comes in at a price that undercuts even the likes of OnePlus 6.

The standard edition of the Xiaomi Mi 8 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage and a 3,400 mAh battery for a base price of around $420 (for the 64GB model). That is some serious bang for your buck, and comes in at a price that undercuts even the likes of OnePlus 6.

xiaomi mi 8 white version

The ~$575 Explorer Edition is the model you should really be looking at though, because it adds a couple of features that you’ll only find in a handful of phones on the market right now.

the transparent back of the xiaomi mi 8 explorer edition

Here’s what you need to know about the phone as we take a quick Xiaomi Mi 8 hands-on look.

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition features an in-screen fingerprint reader, which is something we’ve only seen on a the Vivo X21 and one or two other devices. This fingerprint reader is pressure sensitive too, so the phone will only scan your finger when you press down on the display. Xiaomi tells me this should significantly help save on battery life, since the phone will not have to be scanning for a fingerprint constantly.

the xiaomi mi 8's oled display

The other addition to the Explorer model is a 3D face-scanning mechanism similar to the one found in the iPhone X. It uses infrared light to make a 3D map of your face, and is able to identify the user much accurately than solutions that use the front-facing camera. Thanks to the infrared emitter, this mechanism can also be used to do portrait lighting effects and animated characters similar to the Animoji on the iPhone X.

the xiaomi mi 8 comes with a notch similar to the iphone x

Xiaomi Mi 8 specs

Display 6.21-inch AMOLED
2,248 x 1,080 resolution
18.7:9 screen ratio
6.21-inch AMOLED
2,248 x 1,080 resolution
18.7:9 screen ratio
5.88-inch AMOLED
2,244 x 1,080 resolution
18.7:9 screen ratio
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Octa-core, up to 2.8Ghz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Octa-core, up to 2.8Ghz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 710,
Octa-core, up to 2.2Ghz
GPU Adreno 630 Adreno 630 Adreno 616
RAM 6GB
LPDDR4x
8GB
LPDDR4X
4/6GB
LPDDR4X
Storage 64/128/256GB
UFS
128GB
UFS
64GB
eMMC 5.1
Cameras Rear cameras
Main: 12MP with 1.4 micron pixels, 4-axis OIS, f/1.8 aperture
Secondary: 12MP telephoto with 1.0 micron pixels, f/2.4 aperture
Video: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 240/120/30fps, 720p at 240/30fps

Front camera: 20MP with 1.8 micron pixels, f/2.0 aperture

Rear cameras
Main: 12MP with 1.4 micron pixels, 4-axis OIS, f/1.8 aperture
Secondary: 12MP telephoto with 1.0 micron pixels, f/2.4 aperture
Video: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 240/120/30fps, 720p at 240/30fps

Front camera: 20MP with 1.8 micron pixels, f/2.0 aperture

Rear cameras
Main: 12MP with 1.4 micron pixels, f/1.9 aperture
Secondary: 5MP telephoto with 1.12 micron pixels, f/2.0 aperture
Video: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 120/30fps, 720p at 240/30fps

Front camera: 20MP with pixel binning, f/2.0 aperture

Audio Bottom-firing speaker
USB Type-C
No 3.5mm jack
Bottom-firing speaker
USB Type-C
No 3.5mm jack
Bottom-firing speaker
USB Type-C
No 3.5mm jack
Battery 3,400mAh
Non-removable
Quick Charge 4+
3,000mAh
Non-removable
Quick Charge 4+
3,120mAh
Non-removable
Quick Charge 3.0
Facial recognition Infrared facial recognition 3D facial recognition N/A
Sensors Rear fingerprint
Hall
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Proximity
Ambient Light
Electronic Compass
Barometer
In-display fingerprint
Hall
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Proximity
Ambient Light
Electronic Compass
Barometer
Rear fingerprint
Hall
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Proximity
Ambient light
Electronic compass
Infrared
Network GSM: B2/B3/B5/B8
CDMA: 1X/EVDO BC0
WCDMA: B1/B2/B4/B5/B8
TD-SCDMA: B34/B39
TD-LTE: B34/B38/B39/B40/B41 (120MHz)
FDD-LTE: B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B17/B20
LTE B41 4 antenna technology supporting 4×4 MIMO
GSM: B2/B3/B5/B8
CDMA: 1X/EVDO BC0
WCDMA: B1/B2/B4/B5/B8
TD-SCDMA: B34/B39
TD-LTE: B34/B38/B39/B40/B41 (120MHz)
FDD-LTE: B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B17/B20
LTE B41 4 antenna technology supporting 4×4 MIMO
GSM: B2/B3/B5/B8
CDMA: 1X/EVDO BC0
WCDMA: B1/B2/B5/B8
TD-SCDMA: B34/B39
TDD-LTE: B34/B38/B39/B40/B41
FDD-LTE: B1/B3/B5/B7/B8
Connectivity Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
Bluetooth 5.0
AptX/AptX-HD support
NFC
Dual frequency GPS (GPS L1+L5, Galileo E1+E5a, QZSS L1+L5, GLONASS L1, Beidu B1)
Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
Bluetooth 5.0
AptX/AptX-HD support
NFC
Dual frequency GPS (GPS L1+L5, Galileo E1+E5a, QZSS L1+L5, GLONASS L1, Beidu B1)
Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
Bluetooth 5.0
GPS, AGPS, GLONASS, Beidu, Galileo
SIM Dual nano-SIM Dual nano-SIM Dual nano-SIM
Software Android 8.1
MIUI 10
Android 8.1
MIUI 10
Android 8.1
MIUI 10
Dimensions and weight 154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6mm
175g
154.9 x 74.8 x 7.6mm
177g
147.28 x 73.09 x 7.5mm
164g
Colors Blue, Gold, White, Black Transparent Red, Blue, Gold, Grey

In a way, the Xiaomi Mi 8 is the ultimate iPhone clone. The notch is verysimilar, the dual 12 MP camera setup on the back is in almost the exact same placement as the iPhone X, and the standard black and white colorways look just about as close to an iPhone X as you could get.

The standard black and white colorways look just about as close to an iPhone X as you could get.

the dual camera seen on the back of the white xiaomi mi 8

The Mi 8 Explorer Edition has generated a significant amount of controversy over the last couple of weeks. The back of the device is transparent to seemingly show the components. As it turns out, the placement of the components shown may not be truly representative of what’s actually inside the phone. Instead, Xiaomi says it’s used a “decorative overlay” in order to showcase how artful technology can be. In other words, the components you can see under the glass are just for show. The real, less pretty ones are underneath the decorative ones.

For just $420, it’s hard to find flagship-level specs anywhere else on the market.

the components seen through the back of the Xiaomi mi 8 explorer edition

For your reference, here’s the Mi 8 Explorer Edition next to the HTC U12 Plus, which actually shows its real components beneath its translucent back.

xiaomi mi 8 and htc u12 plus side by side

Controversy or not, the Xiaomi Mi 8 still looks like a great device. For just $420, it’s hard to find flagship-level specs anywhere else on the market.

What are your thoughts on the Xiaomi Mi 8? Is the Explorer Edition piquing your interest? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

14
Jun

‘Surgery in a pill’ may offer diabetics an alternative to bypass surgery


It’s no secret that the people are getting wider, heavier, and less healthy. Sloppy diets, lackluster exercise routines, and seemingly insurmountable daily stresses have led to an epidemic of “lifestyle diseases,” conditions caused by the way people live rather than the genes that make them up.

One of the most prevalent of these conditions is type II diabetes, afflicting tens of millions of Americans an imposing an annual cost of over $174 billion, according to the Center for Disease Control. If the problem goes unchecked, as many as a third of American adults could have diabetes by 2050.

Gastric bypass surgery has showed promise for diabetics — but it’s a major procedure with a host of potential complications and requires that a patient have a body mass index of at least 40. As a result, not a whole lot of patients opt in. Of the American’s who qualify, less than one or two percent undergo the operation.

But a study out this week in the journal Nature Materials offers a different approach that could prove to be a viable and less-invasive alternative to surgery. Simply by swallowing a pill before breakfast, lunch, or dinner, patients with type 2 diabetes may be able to coat their intestines with a thin layer, protecting them from blood sugar spikes.

“We envision a pill that a patient can take before a meal that transiently coats the gut to replicate the effects of surgery,” Jeff Karp, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital researcher who worked on the project, told Digital Trends. “During the past nine years, we’ve been working on this idea and have developed a safe gut-coating material that can potentially mimic the beneficial effects of gastric bypass procedures in the form a pill.”

Karp and his team needed a substance that could both coat the intestines and completely dissolve after its protective job was done. They settled on an FDA-approved substance called sucralfate, used to treat gastrointestinal ulcers. By engineering the compound further, they ended up with a substance they’ve called Luminal Coating of the Intestine (LuCI). Once ground into a dry powder, LuCI can be packaged into a pill.

Given to rodents, LuCI formed a thin layer over the animals’ intestines, providing a barrier for three hours from nutrients and helping regulate their blood sugar levels.

“LuCI can be activated in any part of the gastrointestinal tract … to form a temporary physical barrier that isolates that part of gastrointestinal tract,” Karp explained.

Moving forward, the researchers aim to test the substance for its long-term impact in a diabetic model. They hope to expand these trials to humans within the next year or two, with a best-case scenario seeing the treatment come to market in five years.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Haptic VR surgery isn’t for the faint of heart, but it could help surgeons
  • A new laser eye surgery fixes your vision without any gnarly eyeball slicing
  • Doctors successfully perform the world’s first robot-assisted spinal surgery
  • Surgery-free ‘nasal airway remodeler’ boosts airflow in congested patients’ noses
  • Tummy ache? Swallow this sensor-studded pill to get a diagnosis on your phone



14
Jun

Samsung has made a very big promise for 2020, and it’s not for the Galaxy S12


Samsung says it’s committed to using 100 percent renewable energy to power its key factories, offices, and other facilities by the year 2020. The company plans to reach this target in the United States, Europe, and in China, all of which it says are, “well-equipped with infrastructure for the development and transmission of renewable energy.”

In its home country of South Korea, Samsung is also working with the government on a plan to up the use of renewable energy nationwide by 20 percent over the coming 12 years. While it hasn’t gone into detail about how it will meet the international renewable energy goals it has set out, there is more information on its efforts at home.

This year, Samsung will install a lot of solar panels. At its Suwon, South Korea headquarters a massive 42,000 meters squared of new panels will be erected, followed by another 21,000 meters squared of panels at the beginning of 2019. This second wave, along with geothermal power, will provide energy for its Pyeongtaek buildings, and a year later the Hwaseong facility.

Samsung understands any efforts it makes will be more effective if it’s joined by other companies. In 2019, it will work with 100 of its main partners to implement renewable energy plans, and to assist in meeting targets. It has also become part of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, which helps businesses to achieve energy goals, joining other tech companies including Microsoft, Cisco, HP, AMD, Intel, and Google.

Greenpeace, a vocal critic of Samsung’s environmental policies, called the announcement, “a major step forward,” and noted that 17 of Samsung’s 38 global factories fall into the regions where it will switch to renewable energy. It also states only 1 percent of Samsung’s current energy consumption comes from renewable sources, showing the challenge Samsung has ahead of itself with the promise.

Once it has converted over to renewable energy in these regions, Samsung will be closer to matching archrival Apple’s renewable energy claims. In April, Apple said all its global facilities were powered by 100 percent clean energy, including not only its huge Cupertino campus, but also its retail stores and data centers. It also works with 23 suppliers that produce Apple components using 100 percent clean energy. Google also offset its entire 2017 electricity use through purchases of renewable energy from solar energy and wind farms.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Google makes good on promise to offset 100 percent of its electricity use
  • Tesla’s giant Australian battery reduced service costs by 90 percent
  • The University of Hawaii is on its way to being entirely solar powered
  • Want solar panels but hate their look? Tesla’s low-profile panels are now working
  • Neeo Smart Remote review



14
Jun

Samsung has made a very big promise for 2020, and it’s not for the Galaxy S12


Samsung says it’s committed to using 100 percent renewable energy to power its key factories, offices, and other facilities by the year 2020. The company plans to reach this target in the United States, Europe, and in China, all of which it says are, “well-equipped with infrastructure for the development and transmission of renewable energy.”

In its home country of South Korea, Samsung is also working with the government on a plan to up the use of renewable energy nationwide by 20 percent over the coming 12 years. While it hasn’t gone into detail about how it will meet the international renewable energy goals it has set out, there is more information on its efforts at home.

This year, Samsung will install a lot of solar panels. At its Suwon, South Korea headquarters a massive 42,000 meters squared of new panels will be erected, followed by another 21,000 meters squared of panels at the beginning of 2019. This second wave, along with geothermal power, will provide energy for its Pyeongtaek buildings, and a year later the Hwaseong facility.

Samsung understands any efforts it makes will be more effective if it’s joined by other companies. In 2019, it will work with 100 of its main partners to implement renewable energy plans, and to assist in meeting targets. It has also become part of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, which helps businesses to achieve energy goals, joining other tech companies including Microsoft, Cisco, HP, AMD, Intel, and Google.

Greenpeace, a vocal critic of Samsung’s environmental policies, called the announcement, “a major step forward,” and noted that 17 of Samsung’s 38 global factories fall into the regions where it will switch to renewable energy. It also states only 1 percent of Samsung’s current energy consumption comes from renewable sources, showing the challenge Samsung has ahead of itself with the promise.

Once it has converted over to renewable energy in these regions, Samsung will be closer to matching archrival Apple’s renewable energy claims. In April, Apple said all its global facilities were powered by 100 percent clean energy, including not only its huge Cupertino campus, but also its retail stores and data centers. It also works with 23 suppliers that produce Apple components using 100 percent clean energy. Google also offset its entire 2017 electricity use through purchases of renewable energy from solar energy and wind farms.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Google makes good on promise to offset 100 percent of its electricity use
  • Tesla’s giant Australian battery reduced service costs by 90 percent
  • The University of Hawaii is on its way to being entirely solar powered
  • Want solar panels but hate their look? Tesla’s low-profile panels are now working
  • Neeo Smart Remote review



14
Jun

Mozilla goes all-in on voice commands with its latest browser concept


Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox web browser, is trialing a new browser concept called Scout. The new web navigation tool will have one intriguing feature over its flaming vulpine cousin: Voice support. The idea behind it is to make the entire browsing experience one that can be controlled and enjoyed through vocal commands alone.

With the growth of smart assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Google Now, alongside smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo hardware, voice support is becoming increasingly common and is seen by many as the next step in human-technology interaction. Mozilla’s Scout browser is an attempt to bring that level of hands-free interaction to the web browsing experience.

Announced at a talk in San Francisco, ironically called “All Hands,” the Scout browser is designed to go beyond the “limitations and confines of existing platforms.” It is said to be in the very early stages of development, as CNET reports, but a well-integrated vocal command system has the potential to increase Mozilla’s browser usage among those with limited sight who are forced to rely on screen readers with existing browsers.

Mozilla’s talk was aimed at laying out the design principles required for such a browser, including the key technologies and architecture that would need to be put in place to make Scout a reality. Any kind of public release is likely months or even years away at this point.

Over the past few months, Mozilla has made several efforts at modernizing its Firefox browser in an attempt to recapture some of the browser market that remains dominated by Google’s Chrome. Its launch of Quantum has proved to be a moderate success, and new features like password-free logins and increased performance on multiple-core processors have also met with positive feedback from users.

While we’d still rank Chrome as the best web browser today, Firefox offers very stiff competition and is easy to recommend over other popular choices like Microsoft’s Edge browser and some of its antiquated Internet Explorer releases. While we don’t know whether Scout will be able to take a place among that pantheon of greats, it certainly has the potential to stand out.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best web browsers
  • How to clear cookies
  • Vivaldi and DuckDuckGo join forces to keep search habits private
  • How to enable cookies
  • Mozilla announces Firefox Reality, a browser for augmented and virtual reality



14
Jun

The best money-making apps


andresr/Getty Images

Whether it’s selling your clothes at a consignment shop, or never missing the chance to pick a penny off the ground, who doesn’t like to make a few extra dollars? The truth is, there is real money just hiding beneath something that you use every day — your phone. We’ve already rounded up the best budget apps, but what if you’re looking to earn some crash as opposed to track it? Fortunately, the apps featured below will help when your 9-5 simply isn’t cutting it.

Ibotta

Why not get money back for your everyday purchases? The Ibotta app helps you save money while shopping. All you do is check the app before you head out to shop, travel, or dine out, and add those cash-back deals to your phone. When you’re finished shopping, simply snap a pic of your receipt within the app and Ibotta will award you with cash back. The app works with your favorite retailers, too, including Best Buy, Lowes, Safeway, eBay, and many more.

Download now for:

iOS Android

Ebates

Similar to Ibotta, Ebates awards you with up to 40 percent cash back on items you would normally buy. There are more than 2,500 participating stores — including Walmart, Amazon, Groupon, and Expedia — and you can set the app to notify you when there are new coupons available. If you choose a specific item you want to purchase, Ebates will also show you which stores are selling said item and how much cash back you would receive from each store. Moreover, Ebates is currently offering a $10 bonus when you make your first purchase.

Download now for:

iOS Android

Shopkick

Think of Shopkick like a game, one that awards you gift cards as you earn points, aka “kicks.” To earn them, you accomplish daily challenges, which might require you to walk into a nearby store or scan products in a scavenger hunt. Like Ibotta, you can also earn extra points by taking a picture of your receipt. Then, you just cash in those “kicks” for gift cards to Starbucks, Walmart, Target, Amazon, or one of the many other participating vendors.

Download now for:

iOS Android

Field Agent

Bored on a Sunday afternoon and want to do something more than just watch Netflix? Field Agent pays you for completing small jobs as you’re doing what you’re already doing, whether that’s shopping in stores, running errands, or even simply hanging around your house. The app asks you to take photos, answer questions, express opinions, or complete other small tasks. Each job generally pays somewhere between $2 and $12, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Download now for:

iOS Android

DietBet

Let’s be real, no one really likes working out, but what if you were rewarded for doing it? With DietBet, you bet on yourself to lose weight with a group of other players. You choose one of two game types, Kickstarter, which challenges you to lose 4 percent of your weight in four weeks, or Transformer, which tasks you with losing 10 percent of your weight in six months. If you meet your weight-loss goal by the end of the game, you split the pot with the other players. DietBet claims that 96 percent of its players have lost weight and winners take home an average of $58.

Download now for: 

iOS Android

StepBet

StepBet pays you to do what you do every day: Take steps. Like DietBet, you place a bet on yourself, and if you accomplish your goal, you will split the pot with others in the game. You don’t have to move more or longer than the others in the game, just simply hit your goals and cash out. StepBet uses a signature algorithm to provide each player with daily step goals, and it will automatically count your steps using a variety of devices, including those from Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin. All you have to do is walk, climb, or even dance, anything to get your steps in and hit your goal.

Download now for:

iOS Android

Sweatcoin

The No. 1 app in health and fitness for the iPhone, Sweatcoin, converts your outdoor steps into gadgets, fitness kits, services, and experiences. You can also donate your Sweatcoins to partnering charities. Once downloaded, the app tracks and verifies your steps using your phone’s accelerometers and GPS location, before converting those steps into Sweatcoins. Every 1,000 steps you take outside converts into 0.95 Sweatcoin. It’s that simple.

Download now for:

iOS Android

Google Opinion Rewards

With Google Opinion Rewards, you can answer quick surveys and earn Google Play credits with ease. Once installed, you will be prompted to answer basic questions about yourself. Google will then send you a survey once a week, which will allow you to earn up to $1 in Play credit. Although the payout isn’t substantial, it’s easy, simple, and will eventually pay for a cup of coffee.

Download now for:

iOS Android

iPoll

As the name might imply, iPoll lets you earn gift cards and airline credits by simply sharing your opinion. You will be asked to provide some basic information about yourself, which will help determine which missions are best for you. Once a new mission is available, you will be notified. The missions revolve around a range of topics, and include product reviews, in-store shopping experiences, ad testing, and brand awareness. Once you’ve completed your mission, you’ll receive a slew of credits, which you can then exchange for cash or gift cards to your favorite brands.

Download now for:

iOS Android

Foap

Foap is a way to turn your photos directly into dollars. The app lets you upload your photo collection and sell it to well-known brands, including Bank of America, Air Asia, and Pepsi, among others. Foap also distributes your photos through partners like Getty Images, to help you sell even more photos. With Foap, you can upload as many photos as you want, and you’ll receive 50 percent of the commission every time you sell a photo. The feedback aspect of the app, which allows you to receive input from a growing international community of photographers, is just a plus.

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iOS Android

Slidejoy

Ever unlock your phone, only to forget why you were on it in the first place? Slidejoy is an app that lets you make money just by checking promotions or the latest headlines. Once registered, you will receive a card with news, or an advertisement, every time you unlock your phone. Slide up to see more news, right to access your home screen, left to see more information, and down to access your notifications. You don’t have to slide left to make money — just use your phone as you normally would.

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Android

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14
Jun

It’s now easier to tell Google exactly what data it can use to advertise to you


Online privacy could be on the rise in 2018. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal prompted Facebook to tweak how users can control their ad experience on the social media website, it looks like Google is also stepping up to give you a little more control. The company has announced a revamp of the slightly old and outdated Ad Settings, which Google says “makes it easier to understand and control how ads are tailored to you.”

By the looks of it, the new Ad Settings website will make it a whole lot easier to see the kinds of data that Google is using to advertise to you. The interface is organized based on topics — so you’ll be able to see a list of topics that Google thinks you’re interested in.

According to Google, data used for advertising is collected in three different ways. For starters, it estimates users’ interests based on their web activity when they’re logged in. Second, it uses data that you’ve directly given the company through your Google account, like your age and location. Last but not least, data is collected from advertisers that partner with Google when you visit their website.

So how does that relate to the new Ad Settings? Well, Google is basically allowing users to turn off whether or not they want ads tailored to them based on one of those metrics. That’s a pretty huge move for Google, whose entire business model is based on advertising — it means that, theoretically, you could tell Google that you don’t want any ads based on data collected by partner websites.

Of course, before you get too excited about the heightened privacy, there’s a distinction to make. Google is allowing users to tailor the ads being served to them based on data collected — it’s not necessarily allowing users to tell Google not to collect certain types of data.

Revamping Ad Settings isn’t the only thing Google is doing to bolster advertising transparency. The company is also expanding the “Why this ad?” link to all Google ads, including those on YouTube and “almost all” websites that partner with Google to show ads. When you click on “Why this ad?” you’ll basically be shown what data Google is using to suggest the ad to you. For example, you might click on it on YouTube and be told that the ad is being served based on the video you’re watching and data that has been collected while you were signed in to Google.

The new features are a pretty big move for Google, and one that should help appease some privacy advocates. Still, many will want Google to go a step further and allow users to tailor the data that’s actually collected — not just what data is used in advertising.

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