Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Apple One, Apple’s answer to Amazon Prime, is finally launching

October 30th, 2020
Apple One tiers.

Enlarge / Apple One tiers. (credit: Apple)

Apple’s all-in-one subscription services bundle, Apple One, launches today, according to a confirmation given to Bloomberg by Apple CFO Luca Maestri.

CEO Tim Cook also confirmed the bundle’s imminent launch on the company’s quarterly investor call yesterday.

Apple One offers three plans: individual, family, and premier. Each offers some subset or combination of Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud, Apple News+, and soon, Apple Fitness+.

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Posted in Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, apple music, Apple News, Apple One, Apple TV, Tech | Comments (0)

Motorola says “new” Moto Razrs shouldn’t arrive in used condition anymore

October 30th, 2020

If you buy a new Moto Razr 5G, it might not seem all that "new" when you get it. A very interesting note (first spotted by The Verge) is at the bottom of the Amazon product description, which says that your Moto Razr will be opened before it gets to you, it's going to be folded, and, oh, we're sorry if there are some fingerprints:

NOTE: originally, RAZR was meant to be shipped in the unfolded position. However, to better protect the display, we have folded your RAZR – it’s safer but may not look as elegant as we hoped. We apologize if you see fingerprints on your device. We assure you your RAZR is brand new.

Motorola's foldable reboot of the Moto Razr has had a tough time surviving in the real world. While the modern take on a classic smartphone looks beautiful, it has also proven extremely fragile, with the trick hinge system and soft, plastic flexible display being prone to damage. (Ours died after one day!) The original released in February 2020, but a sequel with better specs, the Moto Razr "5G," already came out at the beginning of October. Already, it has been decided that the box isn't good enough.

The Razr 5G box looks just like the original Razr reboot box, and it doesn't follow your typical smartphone box design. The bottom half of the box is designed to double as a functional phone stand, and it actually amplifies the sound coming out of the speaker. The phone sits in the bottom of the box vertically, opened up, and tilted back slightly. The top "half" of the box lowers down over top of the phone stand assembly, and a very large foam block presses against the phone display, keeping the phone in place.

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Solve coding challenges at online competition, Nov. 6-9

October 30th, 2020
Shozoku and ninjato are encouraged, but not strictly required, in order to compete.

Enlarge / Shozoku and ninjato are encouraged, but not strictly required, in order to compete. (credit: RunCode)

Annual programming competition is back again in its fourth year, beginning Friday, November 6. RunCode is a nonprofit organization staffed by volunteers working in their spare time and focused on providing educational opportunities for coders and infosec folks. The online event allows programmers of all experience levels to tackle a wide array of challenges, using any of 14 supported programming languages.

This year, the competition theme is "all things web"—which means that most challenges will have something to do with websites; although the "something" can vary pretty drastically, from user interaction to server log analysis. The event will have more than 30 available challenges, grouped into easy, intermediate, and hard, for competitors to find and upload solutions for.

For each challenge, competitors will be given a problem description, a sample data set, and an expected output to make the desired order and formatting clear. Competitors are expected to generate more test data of their own and thoroughly verify the correctness of their code against all the corner cases they can think of; solutions tested against only the sample data provided will likely fail the challenge. Uploaded code is run in a sandboxed Docker container and its output tested for correctness.

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Posted in Biz & IT, challenge, coding, Competition, contest, Programming, runcode, Tech | Comments (0)

Apple earnings show strong iPad and Mac sales can’t make up for the iPhone

October 29th, 2020
An older man in a white polo shirt flashes a peace sign while walking outdoors.

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook. (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Apple announced its fourth-quarter earnings today after the bell, and it was something of a strange quarter because, unlike some previous years (including last year), this quarter's numbers did not include an iPhone launch. The iPhone 12's various models ship in October and November instead of September this year.

CEO Tim Cook proudly announced double-digit YOY growth in all product categories besides iPhone on the call, but the iPhone is important: Apple's total revenue was up only 1 percent year-over-year, with iPhone revenue down almost 21 percent.

While the iPhone didn't help push up the bottom line, Apple did launch other products during the period, including the redesigned iPad Air and two Apple Watches: the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE. iPad revenue was up a substantial 46 percent YOY (it totaled $6.8 billion), and Mac revenue was also strong at $9 billion, or 28 percent more than the same quarter last year.

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Posted in apple, Apple TV, Business, earnings, iPad Air, iphone, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, Stocks, Tech, Ted Lasso, Tim Cook | Comments (0)

Google says it’s “committed” to Nest Secure but won’t ship any new features

October 29th, 2020

No one is quite sure what to make of Google's home security plans lately. The company recently discontinued the Nest Secure, its $500 home security system, so, on one hand, it is out of the home security market. On the other hand, Google also recently signed a $450 million deal with home monitoring firm ADT, which will see it "combine Nest's award-winning hardware and services, powered by Google's machine-learning technology, with ADT's installation, service and professional monitoring." With the Nest Secure being discontinued, does this mean Google is rebooting its security hardware into something that goes hand-in-hand with ADT? Is the Nest Secure product line dead? How much longer will the existing Nest Secure be supported for?

About a week after news broke that the Nest Secure was discontinued, Google  started to communicate to Nest Secure owners in a forum post, a help page, and an email about what is going on. Still, it still hasn't provided a very clear picture of the future.

The most concrete message out of all that communication is  existing Nest Secure users will have at least one more chance to stock up on hardware soon. The Nest Secure works by having a hub/keypad (the Nest Guard) monitor your house via sensors on the doors and windows (the Nest Detect sensors), and users can authorize themselves either with the code, or by tapping an NFC tag (the Nest Tag) against the hub. The sudden stoppage of hardware sales was a real bummer for anyone that was already invested in the system and maybe wanted to monitor one more door or window in the future, or someone that was worried about a sensor breaking.

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iPhone 12 and 12 Pro double review: Playing Apple’s greatest hits

October 29th, 2020

The iPhone 12 is like an album of Apple’s greatest iPhone hits. It combines the well-regarded design aesthetic of the iPhone 5, the promised generational leap in wireless technology of the iPhone 3G, and the dense camera system and large OLED screen of more modern flagships.

The iPhone 12 wraps up so many attractive features, in fact, that it makes it hard to recommend the iPhone 12 Pro to any but a very small number of people. There’s just not much to differentiate them, and that’s a good thing. The cheaper iPhone 12 is more than good enough for just about anyone.

That’s where things stand today, anyway. But it will all change again in a few weeks. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are the middle children between the two models that will later generate the most buzz, I think—the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

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Posted in apple, Features, Gadgetology, iOS, iphone, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, phone, Smartphone, Tech | Comments (0)

In a first, researchers extract secret key used to encrypt Intel CPU code

October 28th, 2020
Promotional close-up photo of computer component.

Enlarge (credit: Intel)

Researchers have extracted the secret key that encrypts updates to an assortment of Intel CPUs, a feat that could have wide-ranging consequences for the way the chips are used and, possibly, the way they’re secured.

The key makes it possible to decrypt the microcode updates Intel provides to fix security vulnerabilities and other types of bugs. Having a decrypted copy of an update may allow hackers to reverse engineer it and learn precisely how to exploit the hole it’s patching. The key may also allow parties other than Intel—say a malicious hacker or a hobbyist—to update chips with their own microcode, although that customized version wouldn’t survive a reboot.

“At the moment, it is quite difficult to assess the security impact,” independent researcher Maxim Goryachy said in a direct message. “But in any case, this is the first time in the history of Intel processors when you can execute your microcode inside and analyze the updates.” Goryachy and two other researchers—Dmitry Sklyarov and Mark Ermolov, both with security firm Positive Technologies—worked jointly on the project.

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Posted in Biz & IT, Tech | Comments (0)

RIP Google Play Music, 2011 – 2020

October 28th, 2020

Google Play Music died last week. We've known this was coming for some time, and nothing ever happens across the entire Google user base all at once, but many bereaved Google customers are reporting a total loss of life for Google Music. For me the store is gone, speakers no longer work, the app is dead, and the website is dead. It's all gone.

The shutdown wave seems to be rolling across the Google Music userbase as you read this, and even if you still personally have access to some parts the service, you probably won't have much time left to say your goodbyes. Google Music, born May 10, 2011, will leave us after nine wonderful years.

The service will now join Reader, Google+, and countless other products in the great Google graveyard in the sky. Covering the Google news beat in this day and age basically means running a full-time funeral parlor, and just as we did for the death of Google Inbox, we're here to peacefully guide Google Music into the afterlife with a proper send-off. Thank you for being here today as we celebrate the life of Google's trailblazing music service.

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AMD’s newest graphics cards: RDNA2 power from $579 to $999

October 28th, 2020

Today, AMD launched the first of its "Big Navi" RDNA 2 architecture Radeon graphics cards, the RX 6800 XT and RX 6900 XT. These cards compete directly against Nvidia's RTX 3070, RTX 3080, and RTX 3090.

Like Nvidia's RTX 3000 line, the new cards offer 60+ fps 4K gaming, with full DirectX 12 Ultimate support, including hardware-accelerated real-time ray tracing.


RDNA2 brought enormous gen-on-gen fps gains from last generation's "little Navi" RX 5000 series—but what most people will care about is how the components compare to Nvidia's offerings, not to last generation's AMD. In terms of sheer GPU horsepower, Nvidia's RTX 3000 series and AMD's RX 6000 series appear to be in a dead heat. As always, it's worth taking a vendor's own private benchmarks with a grain of salt—but we don't expect to see materially different results in private testing later as these cards filter down to the market.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Tech | Comments (0)

Apple develops alternative to Google search

October 28th, 2020
The iPhone XR

Enlarge / The iPhone XR led iPhone sales, but iPhone revenue was down 15 percent year over year. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple is stepping up efforts to develop its own search technology as US antitrust authorities threaten multibillion-dollar payments that Google makes to secure prime placement of its engine on the iPhone.

In a little-noticed change to the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 14, Apple has begun to show its own search results and link directly to websites when users type queries from its home screen.

That web search capability marks an important advance in Apple’s in-house development and could form the foundation of a fuller attack on Google, according to several people in the industry.

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Posted in antitrust, apple, google, search, Tech | Comments (0)