All you need to know about the iPhone 7

The iPhone can be pre-ordered on September 9, will officially be released on September 16, 2016

With months of speculation about the new iPhone 7, Apple has announced the release date with an event that will be held on September 7, 2016.

Apple presents two models – the iPhone 7 Plus and the 4.7-inch model. There are no reports of a radical design change, and the phone will look similar to the previous model.

The price range is likely to replicate the iPhone 6, with the Plus model being more expensive. The iPhone 7 will have a bigger camera, and the Plus model will have the dual camera, which is considered the future of smartphones. It will produce much better low light images and optical zoom, which won’t become blurred like the previous models. The dual-camera technology will be the closest thing to a DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex camera).

The headphone jack is going away, and this is considered the most radical reported change to the iPhone 7. Rather than the traditional headphones, you will likely have to use the iPhone’s Lightning charging port. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has urged Apple not to get rid of the iPhone’s 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of a proprietary one on the iPhone 7

“If it’s missing the 3.5mm earphone jack, that’s going to tick off a lot of people,” Wozniak told the Australian Financial Review. Wozniak said removing the standard 3.5mm port would mean those who have spent lots of money on headphones may even be deterred from buying the iPhone 7 if it means they have to shell out again for new ones that will be supported by the iPhone 7, or add on an adaptor.

As with other iPhones, the smartphone will likely come with the new Lighting port earbuds or maybe headphones, but it is unlikely. There are also reports about Apple manufacturing wireless earbuds, which may accompany the iPhone 7.

Future iPhones could be waterproof. A report has unearthed a patent to take better pictures underwater. According to Patently Apple, Apple has been granted around 80 patents, one of which relates to underwater photography editing tools. The patent describes a system for colour-balancing images taken underwater that improves those pictures. It would remove unwanted tints without changing the colour of the water itself.

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Google Duo crosses 5 million downloads

Google Duo now over 5M Android downloads in a week,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. Google Duo, a video-calling app for one-on-one interactions, was made available globally on August 18. The app works on Android and iOS. Users need only their mobile number to sign into Duo.

The highlight of Google Duo is its network efficiency. Google’s Product Manager says “our app is reliable across networks, and works across platforms. So if your network is not that good, it will adjust the video definition accordingly, and Duo is smart enough to adapt to these conditions.” In our review, we said our download and upload speeds will make a difference to how well a video call goes on Duo.

Google wanted to create “as simple an experience as possible” with a “solution that is almost as simple as voice calling,” says Amit Fulay, Group Project Manager at Google.

The app can be installed in under a minute. Just type in your phone number, receive a confirmation text, and you’re done. Duo instantly syncs with your existing contact list, so there will be no need to repopulate your phone book manually. Calling is simple too, requiring only two taps, one for “call” and one for the contact’s name. Duo has virtually no fancy features or bells and whistles. The only standout feature is called Knock-Knock, a sort of visual caller ID that shows you a streaming video of the caller before you pick up. Knock-Knock seems like a great way to gauge the caller’s environment or mood before diving into the video chat.

Besides its simplicity, Duo also gets nods for working with very small bandwidths, making it a great option for rural and other low-service areas, as well as for developing nations.

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WhatsApp and Facebook’s plan to share contacts under fire

WhatsApp’s new terms-of-service are causing quite a stir among privacy advocates. The company recently announced it would begin sharing user phone numbers, profile data, status message and online status with Facebook, its parent company — a change that the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) claims violates a Federal Trade Commission consent order.

Specifically, the privacy group says it’s planning to file a complaint against the companies for violating statues of the Federal Trade Commission act that warns against “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” Here, EPIC is accusing WhatsApp of lying to users when it promised its 2014 sale to Facebook wouldn’t effect its privacy policy — which pledged never to share or sell “personally identifiable information” like the phone number, name and profile data shared under the new policy.

This announcement should be very concerning to WhatsApp users, who have been promised many times by both WhatsApp and Facebook that their privacy will be respected and protected,” said Claire T. Gartland, consumer protection counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

WhatsApp says it needs to share limited data with Facebook to test out new features designed to help users “communicate with business,” such as receiving fraud notifications from a bank or flight delays from airline companies.

The warnings over privacy concerns actually go back to 2014 when Facebook first acquired WhatsApp for approximately US$19.3 billion.

“Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, sent a letter to the companies during Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp warning the companies that the privacy promises made to WhatsApp users must be respected,” recalled EPIC’s Gartland.

“WhatsApp’s blog describes two different means of opting out of the proposed new sharing,” she noted, “and neither of these options appear consistent with Rich’s letter, which requires Facebook to get users’ affirmative consent before changing the way they use data collected via WhatsApp.”

Moreover, it does not appear as if WhatsApp even plans to secure what could be considered “meaningful, informed opt-in consent from its users to begin sharing this information with Facebook,” Gartland suggested.

Users also have up to 30 days to opt-out of the sharing portion of the new terms-of-service, but according to EPIC, that doesn’t protect the companies from the FTC’s consent order. The order apparently requires the company to obtain an opt-in consent before asking them to agree to the new terms. WhatsApp does technically offer an opt-in option, but it’s not clear how to access it: one must click “read” to view the terms-of-service agreement before the opt-in checkbox appears.

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Twenty Five years of Linux and still going strong

Happy Birthday Linux!

Linux turned 25 years old on Aug. 25.

Back in the day in 1991 was the day Linus Torvalds posted his message asking for assistance from fellow coders about a personal project.

In a message board, he requested for feedback from developers’ on an OS which was “just a hobby,” and according to its author “won’t be big and professional like gnu.” Meanwhile, Linux expanded way beyond any limits than Torvalds might have fathomed at the time.

The OS keeps important parts of the internet infrastructure going, powers up data centers from big names in the industry, and helps coders build stock exchanges, websites, and the most popular smartphone OS. What is more, the majority of global supercomputers run on Linux.

Despite not being able to rival Microsoft’s dominance over the PC environment, Linux is active on millions of desktops. In fact, it is so popular that Microsoft recently announced in June that the company’s software development platform .NET Core 1.0 will run on Linux as well as Mac OS X.

Despite not being able to rival Microsoft’s dominance over the PC environment, Linux is active on millions of desktops. As the operating system saw increased traction, Linux development started to rely more on professional coders than unpaid volunteers.

Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu), said that the organization is continuing to “support Linux’s journey as the production platform for the enterprise and telecoms infrastructure we see today.” She added that while cloud technology runs almost entirely on Linux, Canonical still thinks the desktop is important to Linux’s growth. Ubuntu also started as a desktop OS, and it’s still used for both mobile and desktop programs, she said.

In the next 25 years, Silber believed that developers and software organizations can put their trust in Linux for everyday needs, whether it’s for simple developments, or for things like the IoT or machine learning.

Canonical also sees software remaining free to share so it can continue to improve by the community. Under the GPL, no one can take advantage of anyone’s code, and it will always remain free, said Torvalds.

Canonical’s Silber agreed: The fact that Linux is still an open platform is something to celebrate, she said.

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PokeFit gives Pokemon Go a real-time fitness dashboard

PokeFit, from P3 communications, helps trainers get a real-time grasp on the positive health benefits they’re getting by playing Pokemon Go. The app itself keeps a log of your sessions, giving you a breakdown of how long each lasted and how much distance you traversed during your trip. When you’re using Pokemon Go, it displays a small rectangular frame in the upper left corner of your screen, providing quick access to info at a glance. You can also turn off the display but still track your stats for review later if you’d rather go for the pure PoGo experience.

The app has another special feature that power trainers will welcome: You can use it to override your screen’s timeout settings, keeping the display on Android devices from going dark while you’re out tracking down your ‘mons. The app also tracks battery usage and data spent while playing Pokemon Go, which might be eye-opening info for frequent players.

LookOut! for instance, offers a live video feed at the top of your display overlaid on Pokemon Go to give players a look at what’s in front of them, so they don’t walk into traffic or fall down a well.

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Instagram and anti-harassment tools

In order to combat harassment on Instagram, the photo-sharing platform is gearing up to let people with “high volume content threads” filter their comment streams, or just turn them off entirely, The Washington Post reported.

For those who decide to leave on the comments, they can create a banned words list that will enable them to hide the comments that use those terms. Soon, Instagram will enable everyday people on Instagram – the ones with not as much action on their accounts – to moderate their comments.

This also means that any person who cares about preventing harassment on their photos – likely the very people who are already experiencing harassment on Instagram or elsewhere – are going to have to put some work into stopping it. But the fact that tools will be there at all, and the fact that banned phrases can be updated at will, is a big step forward.

Instagram has already begun testing these features with celebrities – this is very likely what Taylor Swift used to stop all those snake emoji comments. Advertisers may also have been asking for this to prevent critical commenters.

“High-volume” Instagram accounts will receive the anti-harassment features first, according to the Post. The filtering feature is supposed to appear in “the coming weeks,” while Instagram is still determining whether to widely roll out the ability to disable comments.

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Facebook’s Q2 results show the company growing at enormous pace

The company accelerated its revenue growth in the second quarter, delivering a 59% increase that blew past Wall Street targets and sent its shares rocketing up 8% to a new all-time high in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

The stock is now only up about 5.5%, likely related to Facebook cautioning investors that it doesn’t expect as much growth in the coming quarters.

On the earnings call, the most exciting reveal was that Facebook now sees 2 billion searches per day, up from 1.5 billion a year ago. Zuckerberg said people searching for what others are saying about certain topics is driving that growth, which highlights Facebook’s on-going quest to win public chatter – as space Twitter has long ruled. However, Facebook doesn’t plan to rush to monetize search.

Zuckerberg also noted that he believes augmented reality will reach the mainstream first via smartphone apps instead of clumsy headsets. Facebook’s secondary products also enjoyed big milestones. Facebook Messenger hit 1 billion active users, thanks to constant product iteration like the new addition of an end-to-end encryption option, though also the fact that Facebook removed chat from its main app and forced users to download Messenger.

Meanwhile, Instagram reached 500 million users. Its community bristled at the announcement that an algorithmic feed would start highlighting the most popular posts instead of showing a purely reverse chronological stream.

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Windows 10 no longer free

Downloading the Home version of Windows 10 will now cost users $119, while the Pro version will cost $199

The offer – which has run since Windows 10 was launched – comes to an end just ahead of an “Anniversary Update” that’s set to be released on August 2. “We are committed to delivering continuous innovation to you,” Microsoft said of the Anniversary Update, which features the Windows Ink tool that enables users to note-take and draw on any screen with a stylus and improvements to its virtual assistant, Cortana.

“Features that bring Windows Ink and Cortana to the mainstream; a faster, more accessible and more power-efficient Microsoft Edge browser; advanced security features for consumers and enterprises; new gaming experiences and new tools for the modern classroom.

Microsoft has offered the free upgrade to anyone running Windows 7 or 8.1 since it launched Windows 10 a year ago. Microsoft has been vastly criticized for pushing that upgrade too hard to its existing users. People have complained – and even been given money in return – about the pop-ups and other nagging notifications that Microsoft sends them to tell them to upgrade.

Rolled out at the end of last July, Microsoft billed Windows 10 as the “last” version of the OS, as updates going forward will be incremental and delivered automatically through the cloud. Since its release, the new operating system has been available as a free upgrade to existing Windows users, but that’s set to change days ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled Anniversary Update.

Microsoft said when Windows 10 was launched that it hopes to have it installed on a billion devices by 2018. But it has since walked back that commitment, admitting that it will “take longer” than it had hoped to get to the target.

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Apple charters technology to deactivate iPhone cameras at live concerts

Apple’s new initiative of blocking the iPhone’s camera feature allows venues to use an infrared beam to disable photography on mobile phones, preventing people from taking videos and photos.

The invention comes amid growing frustration that intimate live events are being spoiled by a sea of screens as visitors record videos in order to share them on social media.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch recently pleaded with fans to stop filming while he performed in Hamlet, and the pop singer Adele told a female fan filming on her mobile at a concert in Italy to “enjoy it in real life rather than through your camera”.

Apple’s patent, which illustrates how an iPhone would become temporarily disabled during a rock concert, would require an infrared transmitter to be installed at shows. When switched on, the patent says, the phone would simply display a “recording disabled” message when audience members attempt to take photographs or videos. Alternatively, a watermark or blur effect may be applied, to discourage people from sharing them.

Other initiatives include shining lasers on visitors who use mobile phones during performances, which has become a popular tactic in cinemas in China and was recently adopted by London’s Jermyn Street Theatre.

If Apple’s technology is introduced, however, it could lead to fears that it would be used by oppressive regimes and law enforcement to prevent citizens documenting oppression.

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Norton and Symantec shamed for security software peppered with critical vulnerabilities

Google’s group of security analysts also known as the “project zero” team, tasked with hunting for computer bugs, discovered a heap of critical vulnerabilities in Symantec  and Norton security products – allowing hackers t o completely compromise people’s machines simply by sending them malicious self-replicating code through unopened emails or un-clicked links.

The vulnerabilities affect millions of people who run the company’s endpoint security and antivirus software, rather ironically to protect their devices. Indeed, the flaws rendered all 17 enterprise products (Symantec brand) and eight consumer and small business products (Norton brand) open to attack. In the words of Tavis Ormandy, an English hacker who works on the Google  team: “These vulnerabilities are as bad as it gets”—and have “potentially devastating consequences.”

“An attacker could easily compromise an entire enterprise fleet using a vulnerability like this,” Ormandy writes on a Google blog. “Network administrators should keep scenarios like this in mind when deciding to deploy Antivirus, it’s a significant trade off in terms of increasing attack surface.”

Ormandy’s post published soon after Symantec issued advisories of its own, which credit him for reporting the bugs. “An attacker could potentially run arbitrary code by sending a specially crafted file to a user,” the notice warns, before mentioning that the company has “verified these issues and addressed them in product updates.”

Symantec, which recently purchased the Bain Capital-backed cybersecurity firm Blue Coat for $4.65 billion, also employed open source code that it failed to update even after seven years of use, Ormandy notes.

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