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Wireless Networking

Apple Delays AirPods Beyond Original 'Late October' Window ( 11

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Apple's new wireless, $180 AirPods have less than a week to meet their original shipping target of "late October," and now the company has confirmed that such a launch is officially off the table. A Wednesday statement, given to Ars Technica just one day ahead of the company's latest Mac-related press event, confirmed Apple's decision to delay the wireless headphones' launch. In the statement, Apple tells Ars that the company "needs a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers." "The early response to AirPods has been incredible," the Apple statement reads. "We don't believe in shipping a product before it's ready." Apple declined to offer any estimate or release window information about when to expect the AirPods' official launch.

Apple's Annual Sales Fall For First Time Since 2001 ( 209

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: Apple just posted its first annual sales decline since 2001, the year it launched the iPod and kicked off a tremendous run of groundbreaking products. The tech company revealed Tuesday that annual sales fell to $216 billion in the 2016 fiscal year ending September 30, from a record $234 billion in 2015. The sales decline is closely connected to the falling sales for the iPhone, which remains Apple's largest source of revenue. Apple sold 45.5 million iPhones in the September quarter, down from 48 million iPhones in the same quarter a year earlier. That marks the third consecutive quarter when iPhone sales and overall revenue have declined from a year prior. Many analysts have raised concerns that the global smartphone market is saturated. Customers are taking longer to replace their phones. And Apple's latest iPhone is a dead ringer for the previous two models, eliminating some of the desire to upgrade. The good news is that this sales decline may prove to be a blip and not the new norm. Apple is projecting that it will post sales of $76 billion to $78 billion in the upcoming quarter, up from $74.8 billion a year earlier.
Desktops (Apple)

It Looks Like Apple is Killing the Physical Esc and Power Keys On New MacBook Pro 497

Curious minds on the internet have uncovered an image file on their Mac, which was added by Apple in the latest macOS update. The image reveals a new laptop that fully fits the description of rumored MacBook Pro, which Apple is expected to launch on October 27. The laptop in the picture has what seems like a "contextual" OLED display (some are calling it Magic Toolbar display) on the top. What's interesting from that picture is that there's no physical Escape key or Power key to be found anywhere.

Editor's note: We usually tend to avoid covering leaks and rumors, but several readers pitched the story to us, and media outlets are also covering it now, which adds some credibility to the matter.

Apple Releases iOS 10.1 With New Portrait Mode For iPhone 7 Plus ( 50

Apple has released iOS 10.1 to the public today for all iOS 10 users, and with it comes several new features, a long list of bug fixes, and various other under-the-hood improvements. One of the biggest new features introduced is a new "Portrait" mode, which uses the dual cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus to create shallow depth of field portrait photos with plenty of background bokeh. MacRumors reports: To achieve the blurred look, the image signal processor in the device uses the wide-angle camera to create a depth map while the telephoto captures an image, dissecting the different layers of the photo to decide what to blur with an artful "bokeh" effect. It works on people, pets, and objects, but it does require good lighting to achieve the proper results. The update also [...] brings Transit directions to Japan for the first time. There have been some tweets to the Messages app. It's now possible to play Bubble and Screen effects in Messages with Reduce Motion enabled, something that wasn't previously possible. There's also a new option to replay Bubble and Screen effects. It's important to the note that the "Portrait" mode is still in beta, and will not work flawlessly. Mac Rumors has a full list of the changes made to iOS 10.1 embedded in their report, which you can view here.

Macs End Up Costing 3 Times Less Than Windows PCs Because of Fewer Tech Support Expense, Says IBM's IT Guy ( 523

An anonymous reader shares a report on Yahoo (edited): Last year, Fletcher Previn became a cult figure of sorts in the world of enterprise IT. As IBM's VP of Workplace as a Service, Previn is the guy responsible for turning IBM (the company that invented the PC) into an Apple Mac house. Previn gave a great presentation at last year's Jamf tech conference where he said Macs were less expensive to support than Windows. Only 5% of IBM's Mac employees needed help desk support versus 40% of PC users. At that time, some 30,000 IBM employees were using Macs. Today 90,000 of them are, he said. And IBM ultimately plans to distribute 150,000 to 200,000 Macs to workers, meaning about half of IBM's approximately 370,000 employees will have Macs. Previn's team is responsible for all the company's PCs, not just the Macs. All told IBM's IT department supports about 604,000 laptops between employees and its 100,000+ contractors. Most of them are Windows machines -- 442,000 -- while 90,000 are Macs and 72,000 are Linux PCs. IBM is adding about 1,300 Macs a week, Previn said.

iPhone 7 Plus Qualcomm LTE Modem Significantly Outperforms Intel LTE Modem, Study Finds ( 44

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mac Rumors: With the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple elected to use LTE modems from two different sources, Qualcomm and Intel. The A1778 and A1784 iPhone models use a GSM-only Intel XMM7360 modem while the A1660 and 1661 iPhone models use a GSM/CDMA-compatible Qualcomm MDM9645M modem. Apple's decision has already caused some disappointment among customers because the GSM-only Intel modem is not compatible with as many carrier networks as the GSM/CDMA Qualcomm modem, and now independent testing conducted by Cellular Insights suggests there are some significant performance differences between the two modems, with the Qualcomm modem outperforming the Intel modem. Using an RS TS7124 RF Shielded Box, two RS CMW500, one RS CMWC controller, and four Vivaldi antennas, Cellular Insights created a setup to simulate LTE performance at different distances from a cellular tower using two iPhone 7 Plus devices, one with an Intel modem and one with a Qualcomm modem. The goal of the test was to measure the highest achievable LTE throughput starting at a Reference Signal Received Quality of -85dBm (a strong signal) and gradually reducing the power level to simulate moving away from a cellular tower where signal is weaker. Three LTE bands were tested: Band 12, Band 4 (the most common band in North America), and Band 7. In all three tests, both the iPhone 7 Plus models offered similar performance in ideal conditions, but as power levels decreased, Cellular Insights saw "unexplainable sharp dips in performance" in the Intel modem, finding a gap "north of 30%" in favor of the Qualcomm iPhone 7 Plus. In the charts, the Qualcomm modem maintains noticeably higher throughput speeds than the Intel modem as signal strength decreases. According to Cellular Insights, in every single test, the iPhone 7 Plus with a Qualcomm modem "had a significant performance edge" over the iPhone 7 Plus with an Intel modem.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Rumored To Remove Old-School USB Ports On Next MacBook Pro ( 314

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: First the headphone jack, now the USB port? Rumor has it that Apple may get rid of the USB 3.0 port and the Magsafe port (where the charger plugs in) on the next generation of MacBooks. Japanese tech site Macotakara, which accurately predicted that Apple would kill the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, now also claims that the USB port is on the way out. The move would be similar to Apple's latest 12-inch MacBook and its streamlined profile. There's also word that Apple may discontinue the 11-inch MacBook Air to focus instead on the 13-inch laptop. Discontinuing the 11-inch MacBook Air would also potentially boost sales on the 12-inch MacBook. If these rumors are in fact true, then the new MacBooks will have only a USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports. Both of these ports are about the size of the part of an iPhone charger that plugs into the phone. But since most laptop accessories still plug in via the USB port, Apple owners might have to use an adaptor, or upgrade their technology. Meanwhile, the new MacBooks would likely be charged through the USB-C port or Thunderbolt 3 port. Currently, Apple already sells a USB-C dock with other USB and HDMI ports for $79. The USB-C port uses USB 3.1 Standard, according to PCWorld, which will connect to a wide variety of accessories, such as external hard drives, cameras, and printers. The USB 3.1 can also transfer data between the host computer and the peripheral accessories at a speed of 10 gigabits per second, which is twice as fast as the USB 3.0. Apple is expected to reveal the new Macs at an October 27th event in Cupertino, California.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Announces a Mac Event On October 27, Says 'Hello Again' 84

Apple announced on Wednesday that it will be holding an event on October 27. The tagline of the invite is, "hello again." This suggests that the rumors are true and that the company will indeed announce a fleet of new Mac products. The original Mac was introduced with the word "hello" in 1984. People have waited for years now for Apple to refresh its Macbooks -- some of the products in Mac line haven't received an update in 1000 days. Many expert even said earlier that Apple should stop selling the old MacBooks. The new MacBooks are expected to ship with Intel Skylake processor and a contextual keyboard. Not long ago, the company was also exploring the idea of a MacBook without a 3.5mm audio jack.
Desktops (Apple)

Report: Apple To Unveil New Macs At An October 27th Event In Cupertino ( 142

According to Recode's sources, Apple's updated Macs will be unveiled at an event in Cupertino on October 27th. Recode reports: The move had been long expected, given that the company released MacOS Sierra last month but had yet to introduce any new computer models sporting the software. It also comes just in time for Apple to have the new products on sale for the full holiday season. Apple has gone a long time without making significant changes to any of its Mac models, with most experts encouraging customers to hold off all but essential new purchases until the lineup was updated. Tops among the rumors have been reports that Apple will introduce a new MacBook Pro sporting a row of customizable touchscreen keys. The Mac event is expected to take place at or near Apple's Cupertino campus rather than in San Francisco, where the company held many recent events, including the iPhone 7 announcement.

Evernote Confirms a Serious Bug Caused Data Loss For Some Mac Users ( 31

Evernote has sent an email to users warning of a serious bug "in some versions of Evernote for Mac that can cause images and other attachments to be deleted from a note under specific conditions." The company claims only "a small number of people" are affected, but those who have received the email will need to update their Mac app as soon as possible. The glitch occurs in the September version of the software, and less frequently in the versions released since June. TechCrunch reports: In these applications, certain sequences of events can cause an image or other attachments to be deleted from notes without warning, but text is not affected. For example, the bug can be triggered by skimming quickly through a large number of notes, Evernote says. The email explains that once the company identified the problem, it worked quickly to implement a solution and attempted to restore all lost data. The issue was under discussion in Evernote's forums earlier this month. For heavy Evernote users, the bug could have a major impact. One user in the forums posted that they had 20,000 notes in their Evernote account, as part of their PhD research. Hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of their notes may have now become corrupted, according to their post. Unfortunately for some affected users, data recovery was not possible through automated means, the company's email stated. Instead, Evernote is advising those users who are missing attachments to use Evernote's note history feature in Evernote Premium to try to recover the missing data.

Chrome 54 Arrives With YouTube Flash Embed Rewriting To HTML5 ( 76

Krystalo quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched Chrome 54 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This release is mainly focused on developers, but the improvements to how the browser handles YouTube embeds is also noteworthy. You can update to the latest version now using the browser's built-in silent updater, or download it directly from Chrome 54 rewrites YouTube Flash players to use the YouTube HTML5 embed style. YouTube ditched Flash for HTML5 by default in January 2015, but the old embeds still exist all over the web. Google says the change improves both performance and security for its desktop browser. The report adds that "Chrome also now provides support for the custom elements V1 spec," which allows "developers to create custom HTML tags as well as define their API and behavior in JavaScript." BroadcastChannel API will also be implemented "to allow one-to-many messaging between windows, tabs, iframes, web workers, and service workers." You can read more about Chrome 54 on Google's blog post.

A Spotify Ad Slipped Malware Onto PCs and Macs ( 96

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes TechHive: Spotify's ads crossed from nuisance over to outright nasty this week, after the music service's advertising started serving up malware to users on Wednesday. The malware was able to automatically launch browser tabs on Windows and Mac PCs, according to complaints that surfaced online...the ads directed users' browsers to other malware-containing sites in the hopes that someone would be duped into downloading more malicious software.
It didn't last long -- Spotify quickly posted that they'd identified "the source of the problem." And they're not the only company dealing with hidden malware in ads, since the same thing has happened to both Google and Yahoo.
Operating Systems

Apple To Make macOS Sierra Available As Automatic Download Beginning Today ( 132

Remember how Microsoft was pushing Windows 10 updates to your computers? That surely made a lot of people furious. Today, Apple told The Loop that it will also begin automatic download of its latest desktop operating system update, macOS Sierra on Macs that are compatible with the new software -- provided, automatic downloads are switched on and the Mac has enough storage space. From the report: t's important to note that this is not an automatic installer -- this process will only download the update in the background, and then alert you that it is available to install. You can choose to install it when its convenient. You can also choose to ignore the update. [...] Of course, you can manually delete the download if you don't wish to upgrade, and you can choose to manually download the update from the App Store at any time.

Aetna To Provide Apple Watch To 50,000 Employees, Subsidize Cost For Customers ( 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mac Rumors: Insurance company Aetna today announced a major health initiative centered on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, which will see Aetna subsidizing the cost of the Apple Watch for both large employers and individual customers. Starting this fall during open enrollment season, Aetna will subsidize "a significant portion" of the Apple Watch cost and will offer monthly payroll deductions to cover the remaining cost. Aetna also plans to provide Apple Watches at no cost to all of its nearly 50,000 employees as part of a wellness reimbursement program to encourage them to live healthier lives. Aetna plans to develop several iOS health initiatives with "support" from Apple, debuting "deeply integrated" health apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch that will be available to all Aetna customers. According to Aetna, these apps will "simplify the healthcare process" with features like care management to guide customers through a new diagnosis or a medication, medication reminders and tools for easy refills, quick contact with doctors, integration with Apple Wallet for paying bills and checking deductibles, and tools to help Aetna members get the most out of their insurance benefits. Aetna's health-related apps will be available starting in early 2017, but the Apple Watch initiative will begin in 2016. Aetna has not detailed how much of the cost will be subsidized or which Apple Watch models will be available to subscribers.
Desktops (Apple)

macOS Sierra Is Now Available For Download ( 202

Dave Knott writes: Apple's latest desktop operating system, macOS Sierra, is now available for download. In addition to the Siri virtual assistant hitting the desktop for the first time, the free update includes features like a universal clipboard, revamped Messages, a storage optimization tool, and Apple Pay on the web.Engadget has also tested the new operating system and gave it a fairly positive review. It notes that Siri integration is "useful, if you already use Siri," and that iCloud and storage improvements have "practical benefits for everyone." But at the same time, the publication found that Siri "isn't always smart enough."

Firefox 49 Arrives With Improvements ( 129

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 49 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The new version includes expanded multi-process support, improvements to Reader Mode, and offline page viewing on Android. The built-in voice and video calling feature Firefox Hello, meanwhile, has been removed from the browser. First up, Firefox 49 brings two improvements to Reader Mode. You can now adjust the text (width and line spacing), fonts, and even change the theme from light to dark. There is also a new Narrate option that reads the content of the page aloud. Next is the Mozilla's crusade to enable multi-process support, a feature that has been in development for years as part of the Electrolysis project. With the release of Firefox 48, Mozilla enabled multi-process support for 1 percent of users, slowly ramping up to nearly half of the Firefox Release channel. Initial tests showed a 400 percent improvement in overall responsiveness.Mozilla says at least "half a billion people around the world" use its Firefox browser.
Desktops (Apple)

23 Years Later: the Apple II Receives Another OS Update ( 81

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Yesterday, software developer John Brooks released what is clearly a work of pure love: the first update to an operating system for the Apple II computer family since 1993. ProDOS 2.4, released on the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II GS, brings the enhanced operating system to even older Apple II systems, including the original Apple ][ and ][+. Which is pretty remarkable, considering the Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters. You can test-drive ProDOS 2.4 in a Web-based emulator set up by computer historian Jason Scott on the Internet Archive. The release includes Bitsy Bye, a menu-driven program launcher that allows for navigation through files on multiple floppy (or hacked USB) drives. Bitsy Bye is an example of highly efficient code: it runs in less than 1 kilobyte of RAM. There's also a boot utility that is under 400 bytes -- taking up a single block of storage on a disk. The report adds: "In addition to the Bitsy Boot boot utility, the ProDOS 2.4 'floppy' includes a collection of utilities, including a MiniBas tiny BASIC interpreter, disk imaging programs to move files from physical floppies to USB and other disk storage, file utilities, and the 'Unshrink' expander for uncompressing files archived with Shrinkit."

Windows 10 Haters: Try Linux On Kaby Lake Chips With Dell's New XPS 13 ( 234

Attention Linux enthusiasts. Your OS of your choice can finally work on laptops with Intel's Kaby Lake chips. Dell is releasing three new models of slick XPS 13 Developer Edition that will be available with Ubuntu OS and 7th Generation Core processors in the U.S. and Canada starting on Oct. 10, reports PCWorld. From the article:Prices for XPS 13 DE will start at $949. Dell also announced the XPS 13 model with Kaby Lake and Windows 10, which will ship on Oct. 4 starting at $799. Dell didn't share details on what version of Ubuntu desktop OS will be preloaded. It officially supports Ubuntu 14.04 in existing laptops, but could pre-load version 16.04 on the new XPS 13 DE. Dell has remained committed to Linux while major PC vendors shift to Windows 10 on PCs. Intel made a major commitment to supporting Windows 10 with its new Kaby Lake chips but hasn't talked much about Linux support. XPS 13 DE is perhaps the sexiest and thinnest Linux laptop available, with an edge-to-edge screen being a stand-out feature. It is the latest in Dell's Project Sputnik line of laptops, and it is targeted at computer enthusiasts who want a Windows or Mac alternative. A knock against Linux is that the OS has lagged behind Windows on driver development and on supporting the latest technologies like USB-C ports, 4K screens, and Thunderbolt. Project Sputnik started four years ago as an effort between Dell and the open-source community to bridge that gap, and since then, the resulting laptops have achieved cult status among Linux enthusiasts. A Dell XPS 13 with a Core i5 chip will have a full HD screen, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Another configuration will have a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen, Core i5, and a 256GB SSD. A fully loaded model will have a Core i7 chip, a 512GB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen.

Xiaomi Can Silently Install Any App On Your Android Phone Using A Backdoor ( 97

Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer many refer to as the "Apple of China," can silently install any app on your device, according to a Computer Science student and security enthusiast from the Netherlands. Thijs Broenink started investigating a mysterious pre-installed app, dubbed AnalyticsCore.apk, that constantly runs in the background and reappears even if you try and delete it. The Hacker News reports: After asking about the purpose of the AnalyticsCore app on the company's support forum and getting no response, Thijs Broenink reverse engineered the code and found that the app checks for a new update from the company's official server every 24 hours. While making these requests, the app sends device identification information with it, including the phone's IMEI, Model, MAC address, Nonce, Package name as well as signature. If there is an updated app available on the server with the filename "Analytics.apk," it will automatically get downloaded and installed in the background without user interaction. Broenink found that there is no validation at all to check which APK is getting installed to a user's phone, which means there is a way for hackers to exploit this loophole. This also means Xiaomi can remotely and silently install any application on your device just by renaming it to "Analytics.apk" and hosting it on the server. Ironically, the device connects and receives updates over HTTP connection, exposing the whole process to Man-in-the-Middle attacks."
PlayStation (Games)

Every PlayStation 4 Gets HDR This Week With System Update 4.00 ( 41

Sony announced today it is rolling out a new system updated -- dubbed Shingen -- to all the PlayStation 4 to bring High Dynamic Range (HDR) support. The new update, in addition, also brings Spotify integration, LAN data migration transfer, and tweaks to interface. From a CNET report: Other refinements to the system's interface include a redesigned content info screen -- the thing you see when pressing down after highlighting a game on your home screen. Similarly, the What's New screen has been updated with a new layout. 4.00 also adds support for HDR to all play PS4s, something Sony announced last week. This will be an option located in the Video Output Settings menu for existing PS4s and the new slim PS4, as well as the PS4 Pro. Those who get a Pro when it launches in November will also find support for several new features added in this update. As we learned recently, the system features 1080p streaming for Share Play and Remote Play (but only to PC/Mac and Xperia devices, not Vita), as well as 1080p/30 FPS streaming to Twitch and 1080p 30/60 FPS streaming to YouTube.

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