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28
Sep

Facebook Uncovers ‘Security Issue’ Affecting Nearly 50 Million Accounts


Facebook this morning announced that its engineering team on Tuesday discovered that hackers have exploited a vulnerability in its code, allowing hackers to steal Facebook access tokens for almost 50 million accounts.

According to Facebook, hackers took advantage of security flaws in its “View As” code, which is a feature designed to let people see what their profile looks like to someone else. The Facebook access tokens that were stolen are digital keys that allow people to stay logged in to Facebook.

This attack exploited the complex interaction of multiple issues in our code. It stemmed from a change we made to our video uploading feature in July 2017, which impacted “View As.” The attackers not only needed to find this vulnerability and use it to get an access token, they then had to pivot from that account to others to steal more tokens.

It is not clear whether the accounts affected were misused or have had information accessed at this time, and Facebook does not know who executed the attacks.

Facebook says that the vulnerability has been patched at this time, and authorities have been informed. Facebook has reset the access tokens of the nearly 50 million accounts that were affected along with another 40 million accounts that have been subject to a “View As” lookup in the last year.

Customers who have been logged out of their apps will receive a message about what happened once they log back in.

While a security review is conducted, Facebook is turning off the “View As” feature that was used for the hack.

Facebook says that it is “sorry this happened” and that people’s privacy and security “is incredibly important.” No one needs to change their passwords, according to Facebook, but those concerned can visit the “Security and Login” section in settings to log out of all devices at once.

Today’s Facebook hack comes just a day after Facebook was found to be using phone numbers that customers provided for 2-factor authentication for ad targeting purposes and shadow contact building.

Tag: Facebook
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28
Sep

Common Galaxy Note 9 problems and how to fix them


The stunning Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the jewel in Samsung’s mobile crown. It’s exceptionally powerful, comes with an amazing camera, and has even improved the Note’s signature feature — the S Pen. But it’s not perfect, and every device has its share of problems and issues.

If you do run into a problem, don’t cry or throw your phone in the bin — we’ve dug around to find some of the most common Galaxy Note 9 problems and issues, and the fixes that’ll keep your device running smoothly.

Issue: Navigation keys unresponsive

A number of users are reporting that the software-based navigation keys at the bottom of the Note 9’s screen are freezing and becoming unresponsive. Users have reported that the issue is intermittent, but when it occurs it can take up to 10 to 20 taps to push through a command — and often the issue doesn’t go away until the phone is restarted.

It seems that the issue is restricted only to devices using Samsung’s default Samsung Experience launcher — one user using Nova Launcher said he only had the issue while on his Note 9’s home page.

The root of the problem is apparently a recent update to Samsung Pay — which explains why the issue hasn’t been around since the Note 9’s launch.

Workaround:

  • It seems that a restart of the phone will clear the issues, at least for a time.
  • One user reported that changing his Note 9’s theme through the Samsung Themes app solved his issues. This is highly anecdotal, but it’s worth a shot if you’re getting the issue consistently.

Solution:

  • Since the problem is linked to Samsung Pay, setting up Samsung Pay is apparently enough to solve the issue. It seems that some form of invisible pop-up from Samsung Pay is blocking the keys, and that box goes away once Samsung Pay is set up. It’s a weird solution — but apparently it works.
  • Samsung is also working on an update that solves the issue. If you don’t want to set up Samsung Pay, then waiting for that update is your only way to solve the problem.

Problem: Camera lags or freezes for a few seconds

Users on the official Samsung forums and XDA Developers have been complaining of lagging and freezing while using the Note 9’s camera. This issue seems to happen both when taking images and recording video, and clearing the cache, changing the MicroSD card, and restarting the phone have had no impact. The “Camera failed” warning also seems to be linked to this issue.

Samsung is aware of this problem, and a moderator on the official Samsung forums has stated that Samsung is working to find out the root of the problem.

Solution:

  • Unfortunately there’s no fix for this yet, and if the problem is really getting your goat, then your only recourse is to reach out to Samsung a request a new phone.

Problem: Volume lowers during media playback

Some users are noticing that video volumes are lowering several minutes into media playback. The problem is occurring on YouTube and other video apps, including Samsung’s own video app, and it seems to happen exclusively several minutes into playback. The issue persists into safe mode — which indicates the problem isn’t caused by a third-party app.

One user has relayed information from a Samsung technician that indicated a software update could fix the problem — but this is at odds with other advice from one of Samsung’s official moderators who recommended a replacement unit.

Solution:

  • It’s currently unknown whether this issue is software or hardware-based, and Samsung seems none the wiser as to what’s causing the issue. Contacting Samsung and getting a replacement unit may be your only solution at this stage.

Problem: Top speaker is inconsistent during calls

The Note 9 uses a lower speaker and the earpiece at the top of the phone to deliver stereo sound. Unfortunately, it seems that the earpiece at the top of the phone is working inconsistently for some users during speakerphone mode in calls. According to some posts, the top speaker will work sometimes when the phone is moved, but will cut out at other times.

This is a particularly interesting problem because, as some users have pointed out, the top speaker is only meant to work for music and videos and shouldn’t kick in for speakerphone at all. It seems the sensor at the top of the phone is cutting out the earpiece speaker when blocked, causing the intermittent service.

Potential solution:

  • It’s probably worth running through Samsung’s troubleshooting guide for speakers. It may or may not work, but it’s worth a shot.

Solution:

  • There’s no official solution to fix this yet, so unfortunately your only real solution seems to be to get your phone replaced.

Issue: Quiet notifications

Many have expressed concerns that the Note 9’s ringtone and notification volumes are quieter than other comparable phones, and especially when compared to last year’s Galaxy Note 8. It seems that while the earpiece kicks in for music and video, only the bottom speaker is used for notifications and ringtones.

Workaround:

  • Unfortunately there’s not much that can be done to fix this on a hardware level — it’s simply how loud the speaker is. However, some users have suggested using an app to boost the volume. Volume Booster GOODEV is recommended.

Problem: S Pen not registering on certain parts of the screen

The S Pen is a wonderful addition to the Note 9, with some great new features being added to the latest version of Samsung’s huge phone. But it’s just another piece of the phone that can go wrong, and some users are having issues with the S Pen not working on certain parts of their Note 9’s screen.

Possible solutions:

  • Are you using a protective case with a magnet? Many wallet cases use magnets to hold the cover closed, and those magnets can interfere with the S Pen and the Note 9. Try taking off the case and trying again.
  • If that doesn’t work, you may have a defective screen or S Pen. Contact Samsung about a replacement.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Everything you need to know
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Huawei P20 Pro: Two high-end phones clash
  • Here’s everything announced at Samsung Galaxy Unpacked
  • From snapping photos to scribbling, here’s what the S Pen can do on the Note 9
  • The best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 screen protectors



28
Sep

Cops bust $1 million Apple Store robbery ring in California


Apple’s home state of California is cracking down on thieves who enter the tech giant’s stores during opening hours and snatch as many devices as possible before running off.

This week cops arrested and charged 17 people who allegedly took part in a string of robberies at Apple Stores across 19 of the state’s counties, the SF Gate reports.

Losses to Apple have been put at $1 million, with thieves making off with iPhones, MacBooks, iPads, Apple Watches, and pretty much anything else they could grab from the display tables.

The issue has become so serious that California Attorney General Xavier Beccera felt compelled to issue a statement about it on Thursday, September 27.

“Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals,” Beccera said in the statement. “Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking. We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable.”

The arrests are the result of an investigation involving numerous law enforcement agencies across California. The precise number of Apple Store robberies hasn’t been disclosed, but a local news outlet counted at least 21 in the last five months throughout the state, with some stores hit multiple times.

The thieves’ modus operandi is crude, to say the least. Wearing hoodies to hide their faces from security cameras and witnesses, they enter an Apple Store in a large group, yank the products from the display tables, and run off. Such heists are often over in a matter of seconds.

Staff and customers are usually reluctant to get involved, though in August several brave shoppers did step in during a robbery by three people at an Apple Store in the city of Thousand Oaks, west of Los Angeles.

Two of the suspects were tackled to the ground where they were held till the police arrived. The third was picked up later by cops, who also arrested two more suspects inside what was reportedly a getaway car, bringing the total number of detentions in that particular incident to five.

Apple products are often the target of thieves as they can fetch high prices on the black market. But some recent robberies have been far more audacious than simply slinging on a hoodie and strolling into an Apple Store. Take this Mission Impossible-style raid that saw criminals rappel down on ropes to nab iPhones from a store, or this remarkably bold effort that saw a robber jump onto a truck as it sped along a highway before grabbing the Apple gear from the back without the driver even noticing.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Apple Store shoppers in California tackle suspects, thwart robbery
  • A few seconds cost an Apple store $27,000 worth of stolen merchandise
  • 3D-printed gun advocate extradited to Texas to face sex-assault charges
  • Department of Justice asks judge to force Facebook to decrypt Messenger
  • Apple announces new policies to aid law enforcement worldwide



28
Sep

Nokia 7.1 Plus leaks show off a gorgeously shiny copper model


Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

These last two years have seen the serious return of Nokia to the smartphone world, with the release of several smartphones of note — including the Nokia 6.1, a phone we were happy to proclaim as one of the best budget smartphones of 2018.

2018 also saw the release of the Nokia 7 Plus, a midrange device with a respectable amount of power, a good camera suite, and a beautiful 6-inch screen. While we enjoyed using it, it ultimately fell short of greatness. But rumors abound of a new Nokia device taking up the “7” mantle, and it seems that all is to be revealed soon. Here’s everything we know about the Nokia 7.1 Plus.

Design and display

While the Nokia 7 Plus’s design was a little underwhelming, the display was anything but, and we highlighted that phone’s excellent display as one of the phone’s strongest points. It seems that Nokia is looking to shore up some of those weaknesses, while hopefully holding onto those strengths, as photos of the Nokia 7.1 Plus have been spotted ahead of an official release.

The photos, apparently taken at a restaurant, show a large phone with two vertically stacked camera lenses, accompanied by an underslung fingerprint sensor. The phone seems to come in at least two color variants — named as copper and silver by some sources — and the lighting in the surrounding area shows that the phones will have a glossy, shiny finish. The copper color looks particularly impressive, with the light causing a color shift along the body. If these are truly images of the Nokia 7.1 Plus, then this phone could be a very attractive midrange smartphone.

Earlier leaks show off the front of the device, but the renders seem split between a device with a notch and a device without. Nokia Power User seems set that the device with a notch will be the Nokia 7.1 Plus, while the notch-less device will be the Nokia 7.1 — a split between notched and notch-less reminiscent of the supposed Pixel 3 phones.

However, it’s important to note that the leaksters are heavily split on this, and the notched device could be a potential Nokia 9 flagship instead. More rumors say that the Nokia 7.1 Plus will sport a 5.9-inch LCD display with a 2160 x 1080 resolution.

Specs

The Nokia 7.1 Plus looks set to be getting some upgrades over the Nokia 7 Plus, with many rumors pointing at the Snapdragon 710 taking up residence in Nokia’s new midrange handset. If true, this could potentially point to strong performance in the Nokia 7.1 Plus, thanks to the premium midrange chip.

No other specs have been revealed at this time, but it’s reasonable to expect that the 7.1 Plus will not come with specs lower than the 7 Plus — so expect at least 64GB of onboard memory and 4GB of RAM.

Camera

According to whispers, Zeiss has returned to work with Nokia again, tuning the dual-camera setup on the rear of the Nokia 7.1 Plus. However, there have been few other details released. Even less is known about the front-facing camera, though it’s assumed that there is only one.

Release date and price

There’s been little word on a possible reveal or release date for the Nokia 7.1 Plus, though rumors from the start of September pointed at a late October/early November date. Expect the phone to come in at a similar price point to the Nokia 7 Plus’s 350 British pounds (around $465). Like its predecessor, there’s been no word of a U.S. release yet.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The Nokia X5 is a budget phone with a premium glass body and a notch
  • Nokia 6.1 Plus: Everything we know
  • Moto G6 vs Nokia 7 Plus vs Honor 7X camera shootout
  • Nokia 6.1 has Android One, takes funky ‘Bothie’ pictures, and is yours for $270
  • Nokia 9 rumors suggest a strong 2018 for the reinvigorated company



28
Sep

Exclusive: BMW will offer up to 25 electrified vehicles by 2025, 12 will be EVs



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BMW is clearly on a march toward electrifying its entire lineup, doubling down particularly on its i brand, the company’s eco-friendly subdivision.

We were recently and vividly reminded of this with the Vision iNEXT Concept, which the company revealed not too long ago. Making a big spectacle of the occasion, BMW teamed up with Lufthansa Cargo to ship its one-off Vision iNEXT Concept to select cities in major markets around the world for journalists to get an up close and personal look. Earlier this month, we got an in-person look of the concept in New York.

Although BMW’s electrification initiative is quite clear, how many models the company plans to spawn out of this effort has been rather unclear. That was, until Klaus Frolich, BMW AG’s head of development, shed some light on the topic while introducing the iNEXT Concept to journalists in the belly of a Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 777F.

So far, BMW’s electrification efforts are yielding results, according to Frolich, who spoke of the brand’s recent success of selling more than 100,000 electrified vehicles to customers around the world.


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“You can see our initial efforts and investments are paying,” Frolich said. “In 2017, we sold already more than 100,000 electrified vehicles to customers. This year, it will be 140,000. As a result of the success of our strategy, now we are one of the leading providers of electrified vehicles worldwide.”

Despite the recent success however, the company isn’t showing any signs of slowing as Frolich finally shed some light on how many models we can expect from BMW’s electrification initiative.

“And, our model initiative is still speeding up,” he continued. “By 2025, we will offer 25 electrified vehicles, I have to say at least 12 of them will be fully electric. And we are just finishing up developing our fifth generation of our electric drivetrain and batteries.”

Frolich didn’t quite specify however what models will be electrified. But we do know the Vision iNEXT Concept is slated to make it to production in some form, which already accounts for one.

In addition to the new, fifth-generation electric drivetrain and battery technology, there’s a new platform, which will essentially underpin the company’s entire electric vehicle lineup. Further, the plan also includes offering hybrid and all-electric versions of some of its core models, providing buyers with flexible choices rather than confining the electric powertrains just to its i cars.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • BMW teases its Vision iNEXT Concept ahead of global debut next week
  • BMW M joins the hybrid gas-electric movement with its future cars
  • The next-gen Volkswagen Beetle will morph into an electric four-door vehicle
  • BMW USA’s stance on diesels still up in the air despite discontinuation claims
  • Ford gives a peek at rear-end of its new, all-electric Mustang-inspired performance SUV



28
Sep

Apple Wins Appeal in Wisconsin Patent Lawsuit


Back in July 2017, U.S. District Judge William Conley ordered Apple to pay $506 million to the University of Wisconsin’s Alumni Research Foundation for infringing on a patent related to computer processing technology in the company’s A7, A8, and A8X chips. Conley had added $272 million on top of an existing $234 million in damages that a jury ordered Apple to pay in 2015, around when the lawsuit originated.

Today, Reuters reports that Apple has managed to persuade a federal appeals court to throw out at least part of the lawsuit, namely the $234 million in damages.

According to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, no reasonable juror could have been able to find infringement based on the evidence that was presented in the liability phase of the trial in 2015, leading to its decision. It’s unclear why the original $234 million damages award has been appealed, but without any mention of the $272 million extension being thrown out.

Apple Inc persuaded a federal appeals court on Friday to throw out a $234 million damages award in favor of the University of Wisconsin’s patent licensing arm for infringing the school’s patent on computer processing technology.

[The U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals] said Apple deserved judgment as a matter of law in the case brought by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

During the trial, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation originally asked for damages worth $862 million, but lowered the request to around $400 million. The patent in question, titled “Table based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer,” was originally granted in 1998 and covers a method for improving processor efficiency. It lists several current and former University of Wisconsin researchers as inventors.

Tags: patent, Patent lawsuits
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28
Sep

Front Camera Lens on Future iPhones Could Be Invisible With Special ‘Pure Black’ Coating


iPhone camera lens supplier Largan Precision is developing a special black coating for front-facing smartphone camera lenses, according to Jeff Pu, an analyst at Chinese investment firm GF Securities.

Pu’s research note, shared by Taiwanese publications Economic Daily News and MoneyDJ, claims that one or two smartphone makers could adopt the technology as early as 2020. Given that Largan already has a relationship with Apple, it is speculated that the special coating could be applied to future iPhones.

A translated version of the Economic Daily News report says the special coating would allow the front camera lens to “completely disappear.” A translation of the MoneyDJ report says the coating will be “pure black,” eliminating the “small spots” like those visible in the notch on the iPhone X and newer.

The front camera lens already blends into the notch pretty well on iPhones, but it is visible from certain angles and lighting conditions. The special coating would presumably make the lens completely invisible to the eye.

Apple design chief Jony Ive has long dreamed of an iPhone that resembles a single sheet of glass, and hiding the front camera lens would be yet another step towards that goal, even if it sounds like an insignificant change. This is the first time we’ve heard this rumor, however, so treat it with some skepticism.

Tags: Jeff Pu, 2020 iPhones
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28
Sep

Quantum computers could break encryption, so it’s going quantum too


(in)Secure is a weekly column that dives into the rapidly escalating topic of cybersecurity.

Recent breakthroughs have changed the question of quantum computing’s arrival from one of “if” to “when.” They’ll be able to accomplish certain task at a pace hundred or thousands of times better than classical computers which, in turn, will let us pursue solutions to questions that can’t be solved with modern methods.

Modern encryption is one of those questions. Currently protected by prime numbers that classical computers can’t possibly solve before the heat death of the universe, encryption could be busted wide open by the power of quantum.

Luckily, it’s a double-edged sword. Quantum physics can also be used to make encryption better, protecting data against both current and future threats. To find out how it works, and whether it’s practical today, we spoke with John Prisco, CEO and President of Quantum Xchange, the first fiber quantum network available in the United States.

Digital Trends: What makes quantum computers good at cracking conventional encryption?

John Prisco, President and CEO of Quantum Xchange: Because the quantum computer is not using bits that are either one or zero. In fact, they’re using photons that can be simultaneously ones and zeros. It’s just a massively parallel processing capability that a primary computer that we use today can’t do, because bits can only exist in either a one or zero state.

“The real goal is a quantum prime computer. And that’s one in which you could crack the key in 10 seconds.”

So, you know you always hear the comment about, “How fast the computer could read all the books and the stuff in the Library of Congress.” Well, that’s talked about in terms of reading each book serially. The way a quantum computer would read the books in the Library of Congress, would be to read all of them simultaneously.

With the latest RSA 2048 cypher, using conventional computers, it would take a billion billion years to brute force break that key. A quantum computer could do it in about 10 seconds.

When do you think quantum computers will become sophisticated enough to be a real threat to encryption?

There’s a concept called quantum supremacy. That’s not very interesting, even though it sounds like it is. It means when a quantum computer is more powerful than any conventional electronic computer. Google thought that they would have a quantum supremacy computer by the end of last year.

They say they are now going to have a quantum supremacy computer by the end of this year. So, when I talk about cracking RSA 2048 taking a billion billion years, a quantum supremacy computer might shorten that to 900 million billion years. That’s not such a great advance.

John Prisco, president and CEO of Quantum Xchange Quantum Xchange

The real goal is a quantum prime computer. And that’s one in which you could crack the key in 10 seconds. In terms of that, it’s considered to be about a 5 to 10-year event.

But I’m always quick to say that it’s almost irrelevant how long it’s going to take to get there. Nefarious actors are harvesting data all the time, and they’ll always do it, because it’s too easy to do. They’ll harvest data from the Office of Personnel Management the government, or the F-35 plans from Lockheed Martin. And they’ll sit on it until they have a quantum computer that can break the key and open the data.

” … You now have assurance that no one can unlock your data and read your data file.”

Let’s say you’re a Swiss bank, and you have a lot of customers who’d rather keep their identity private. So, you would really want to encrypt using quantum keys today, and not expose yourself to having their data harvested, and worry that somebody is going to have a quantum computer that can break it.

Quantum Xchange is built around the use of quantum keys. Can you explain how they work and that makes them harder to crack?

A quantum key is different than an RSA key in that it’s composed of photons. When you transmit the key from point A to Point B, the key goes along, and each photon we send along can be encoded with a one or zero.

If somebody tried to eavesdrop on that key, it turns out because of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, that if anybody tries to eavesdrop on an optical particle like a proton, the quantum state changes and therefore the key no longer represents the key that will unlock the data.

Because you’re relying on a law of physics, which is as immutable as gravity, you now have assurance that no one can unlock your data and read your data file. The key can’t survive anybody touching it.

Your ‘trusted node’ system claims to solve range issues with quantum keys. Why is there a range issue, and how’ve you solved it?

One of the shortcomings of the quantum key distribution is that the best you can do is about 100 kilometers transmitting the key. That’s probably what has delayed the introduction of Quantum Key Distribution in the United States.

“For someone to break a quantum key, it requires extraordinary circumstances.”

What we’ve done is we’ve worked with Battelle Memorial Laboratories, and we’ve come up with a way to extend the distance a quantum key can travel. It can travel now an unlimited distance.

We’ve come up with a way to encode a quantum key within another quantum cage, and that allows us to keep transmitting multiple hundred kilometers at a time, and it doesn’t violate the uncertainty principle.

Quantum Xchange

Being able to get past this limitation has been critical to make this viable. It’s a big breakthrough, and it’s an enabler for this technology.

I noticed Quantum Xchange claims that it’s pioneering “unbreakable encryption.” How literally should we take that? Is this truly unbreakable, now and in the future?

When you make a bold claim like that you always have people that are going to challenge you, and cryptographers as a class of engineer, or scientist, are very good at challenging that comment.

“This isn’t technology that has sprung up overnight. It’s been running in Geneva for ten years … “

However, it does turn out that because we’re relying on a law of physics, that it is probably unbreakable. Now, is there a non-zero probability that somebody could break it? Yes. But we think it’s extremely unlikely. Literally, for someone to break a quantum key, it requires extraordinary circumstances.

Let’s say I send out a million photons, and you end up accepting 100,000 of them as being totally untampered. If you were a nefarious actor trying to intercept my quantum key, you’d have to guess correctly 900,000 times whether the photon was a one or zero.

Now mathematically, that’s doable. But in my world, and in the practical world, that’s impossible.

Is Quantum Xchange’s solution focused on deterring the threat of quantum computers only, or is it something that can be used for many scenarios?

The generic use case is to safeguard any critical information. It’s being used today in Geneva, by their government management of the elections, to transmit polling data using quantum key protection. It’s absolutely geared towards preventing hackers from stealing data. If quantum computers are the offense, quantum encryption is the defense.

This isn’t technology that has sprung up overnight. It’s been running in Geneva for ten years, it’s been running in Battelle’s labs for five years. We’re deploying it now in New York. This is equipment that works today, and it’s viable today.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Firefox Quantum review
  • With Q#, Microsoft is throwing programmers the keys to quantum
  • Microsoft provides free lessons for quantum computing basics
  • The world’s first practical quantum computer has cash and a timeline
  • Intel backs the U.S. government’s new bill for advancing quantum science



28
Sep

Overcast Podcast Player Gains New Siri Shortcuts and Apple Watch Complications


Overcast version 5.0.2 was released today, bringing additional Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12 and new Apple Watch complications to the popular third-party podcast player.

The new Apple Watch complications can be positioned on the central or corner positions of the Infograph watch face that features on Series 4 models, offering users another way to quickly launch the app from their wrist.

For fans of Siri Shortcuts, Overcast now supports three additional options. One lets you quickly enable or cancel the sleep timer, while the other two allow you to generate either standard or timestamped links for the podcast episode you’re currently listening to, making for easier sharing.

Elsewhere in this update, the Nitpicky Details menu includes an option to reduce the haptic level related to certain functions, and users now have more control over the Auto-Sync to Watch feature, with toggles available for playlists as well as individual episodes.

Lastly, this point update fixes a handful of bugs and crashes, and adds a one-tap preset for the previous interval to the sleep timer. Overcast 5.0.2 is available as a free ad-supported app for iPhone and iPad from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tags: Overcast, Marco Arment
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28
Sep

The innovative Urmo hoverboard folds flat in just 2 seconds


Whether it’s an electric bike or a self-balancing electric scooter, one of the problems with new smart transportation technologies is that, as great as they are when you’re riding them, they can be difficult to store or carry when you’re not using them. That is a pain, regardless of if it’s due to your cramped apartment or because you want to use them to commute to and from work, but have to worry about the subway or storing them during the working day.

Fortunately, the makers of a new minimalist electric scooter “hoverboard” called Urmo have come up with a solution in the form of a clever folding design. When you’re riding it, it can deliver a good top speed of 9 mph, with a range of 12 miles. Decide to stow it, however, and it can fold flat it just a few short seconds.

“The folding mechanism is the key feature of the Urmo,” Felix Ballendat, co-founder of Urmo, told Digital Trends. “Just by lifting the handle, Urmo folds up automatically. This patent-pending mechanism is both simple and functional at the same time. The ingenuity is that the kinematic of the joints are designed in a way that there is no need of a locking mechanism when the vehicle is unfolded. To eliminate tolerances, we reduced the number of joints to a minimum and use premium materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. Just two linkages underneath the vehicle assure the wheels are fixed upright when driving.”


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Development on the scooter started two-and-half years ago in a garage in Germany. Since then, four generations of the prototype have been built, and the team has expanded to include 10 people — including individuals who have worked for brands including Tesla, BMW, and Rimac, makers of the world’s first all-electric hypercar. The result is a stylish product, made of premium materials, but with an emphasis on convenience — from the large 14-inch wheels incapable of getting flat tires to the innovative folding mechanism to its impressively low weight of just 14 pounds. Steering is achieved either by leaning or using an optional handlebar.

The team plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the Urmo later this year, with prices starting at 999 euros ($1,164.) Should all go to plan, hopefully, our 2019 commute to the office should be a whole lot more satisfactory than our 2018 one.

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