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Microsoft's Surface Book Ads Borrow Music From Apple to Focus on Things a Mac 'Just Can’t Do'

Following the launch of a few ads focused around the advantages of Windows 10 PCs over Macs, this week Microsoft continued its campaign with new commercials showcasing the Microsoft Surface Book. The ads feature wildlife photographer Tim Flach describing the pros of the Surface Book, pointing out a few things that he "just can't do" on a Mac.

The first video showcases Flach's "initial impressions of the Surface Book," with the photographer commenting on the detail provided by the two-in-one laptop/tablet device. Flach also detaches the top half of the Surface Book to directly edit and manipulate his photographs. He ends the video stating, "I can't do that on my Mac."


The second ad delves deeper into the powers of the Surface Pen and its 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, with Flach comparing the experience he had with Microsoft's device to his time as a painter. Despite the touch-screen similarities the Surface Book shares with the iPad Pro, Microsoft keeps the comparison specifically to Apple's Mac line in each video.


As pointed out by a reader of The Loop, the score for Microsoft's new ads skews close to a Retina MacBook Pro commercial from 2012. Both videos use variants of "Song" by Kidstreet, with Apple's ad playing the "String Version" of the tune and Microsoft's playing the "Reimagined" version.


A third video posted to the company's YouTube channel echoes much of the sentiment of the first two. Microsoft sells the Surface Book starting at $1,499 and goes up all the way to $3,199 thanks to a boosted 1TB flash storage and Intel Core i7 processor.

Early iPhone 7 Case Has No Headphone Jack and Stereo Speaker Cutouts

While the iPhone 7 is not expected to launch until September, French leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer has shared photos one of the first cases prepared for Apple's next-generation flagship smartphone.

The case has a larger cutout for either a traditional camera and LED flash setup, or possibly dual cameras. There are also two openings for stereo speakers in lieu of a 3.5mm headphone jack on current iPhones.

iPhone 7 case with larger cutout for dual-lens camera (Image: OnLeaks)
The aftermarket case's form factor closely resembles an iPhone 6s overall, with cutouts for a possible all-in-one Lightning connector, pill-shaped volume buttons, and side-facing power button in their traditional places.

Early case leaks have historically been fairly accurate indicators of new iPhone designs, though there have been a few notable exceptions. The first cases for Apple's purported iPhone SE also surfaced last week ahead of its expected March 21st launch.

The case also has openings for stereo speakers on the bottom (Image: OnLeaks)
Multiple rumors have also claimed the iPhone 7 will feature a dual-lens camera system. The hardware could be based on technology Apple acquired from LinX Imaging, which could lead to brighter and clearer DSLR-quality photos and several other major advantages for the iPhone 7 cameras.

Meanwhile, Barclays analysts believe the iPhone 7 will have dual speakers supplied by Cirrus Logic, an Austin-based provider of analog and digital signal processing components for consumer electronics. Stereo speakers could be louder and route audio signals through two

Larger 5.8-Inch OLED iPhone Screen Could Allow for Wraparound Display [Updated]

A DigiTimes rumor shared this morning pointed towards the possibility of a future 5.8-inch display in an iPhone, a significant size increase over the existing 5.5-inch display of the iPhone 6s Plus.

Rumor sites have expressed some skepticism over the idea of a 5.8-inch iPhone, but when looking at Apple's rumored work on flexible OLED displays and patents the company has filed, there is at least one plausible explanation for a 5.8-inch display -- it wraps around the sides of the device.

DisplayMate's Ray Soneira speculates that Apple could be planning to implement "folded edge side screens" on a future iOS device using a flexible OLED display. Such a display would fully eliminate side bezels on the iPhone and would also perhaps implement special buttons or gestures that could be used to control functions on the iPhone using the sides of the device.

Samsung offers phones that have a distinctly curved display with a side bar and its most recent device in that vein is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The S7 Edge curves downward at one side, providing users with a toolbar of apps. Soneira believes Apple's implementation wouldn't mimic Samsung's, perhaps using square sides as outlined in a 2011 patent.

The patent outlines an edge display that's an extension of the main front display, offering virtual buttons, virtual switches, or informational displays that supplement the main display. It consists of a touch-sensitive layer underneath a flexible display layer and in the patent, virtual side buttons have purposes like adjusting volume, or snapping a photo.

In a

OWC Announces Aura Flash Storage Upgrades for Mid-2013 and Later Mac Laptops

Other World Computing today announced a new product that will allow newer Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners to upgrade the storage in their notebooks for the first time.

Aura SSD upgrade kits are available in 480GB and 1TB capacities and will work with the Late-2013 Retina MacBook Pro and newer and the Mid-2013 MacBook Air and newer. At up to 1TB of storage, a Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air can gain up to 8x the capacity of the standard 128GB hard drive that comes with lower-end models. 1TB also exceeds the maximum factory drive available in the MacBook Air, which is limited to 512GB.

According to OWC, its Aura PCIe-based flash storage is designed using high-quality components that are fully compatible with Mac notebooks.

Tier-1 Flash - Aura SSDs use only top-rated flash for amazing performance and dependability.
Superior Error Correction - Three-level error correction with low-density parity checks provides significantly improved reliability, and RAID-like protection for your data.
Cell-Level Data Refresh - Aura's powerful embedded processor monitors and re-writes data blocks as needed to maintain correct charge at the cell level, improving the integrity of your data and extending the life of your drive.
Global Wear-Leveling - A global wear-leveling algorithm helps evenly distribute data across your SSD cells, extending the life of your drive by preventing any section of flash from getting worn out prematurely.
Upgrade kits include all of the tools that are necessary to replace the solid state drive in a Mac notebook, and it also includes an OWC

5.8-Inch iPhone With OLED Display Rumored for Launch in 2017 or 2018

Apple is rumored to be further expanding the iPhone's screen size beyond the current 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus, moving to 5.8 inches in a future device that could launch "in 2018 or even earlier in 2017." The news comes from a pre-publication report by DigiTimes that has been obtained by The Motley Fool, and it states that the 5.8-inch iPhone will include an OLED display, in line with previous rumors of Apple adopting the technology around that time.

According to the report, Samsung is to be the main source for the OLED panels, with LG and Japan Display "joining in later." Recently, Samsung was reported to be on the verge of investing over $7 billion into supplying OLED displays for future iPhones, following rumors last year that 2018 would mark Apple's official shift from LCD to OLED displays in its popular smartphone line. More recent reports suggest that OLED timeline could be moved up to 2017.

Based on DigiTimes' estimates, the production of OLED displays could see significant output within the first year, though still only a fraction of the over 200 million iPhones Apple sold over the past year.
Per the note, DIGITIMES' supply chain sources believe that 50 million of these AMOLED-equipped iPhones will make it out to customers in the first year of availability.
The company's upcoming March media event is rumored to showcase the launch of a new 4-inch "iPhone SE," but as of yet there have been few rumors suggesting the company has looked into expanding the already-large screen of the iPhone 6s Plus. With the rumored launch dates of 2017 or 2018, if it becomes a

Apple Granted Patent for Liquidmetal Home Button on iOS Devices

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a series of 40 new patents, including one that describes various implementations and benefits of a Liquidmetal home button on iPhones and iPads.

Liquidmetal alloys, otherwise known as "bulk solidifying amorphous alloys" in the patent filing (via Patently Apple), have a number of unique properties, including high strength, corrosion resistance, light weight, and malleability.

Apple has annually renewed its exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal since 2010, but how it plans to use the alloys remains unclear. Early speculation centered around Apple using Liquidmetal for the iPhone SIM Tool, while other Liquidmetal home button patents have surfaced as early as 2014. Meanwhile, Steve Zadesky, named on this and other Liquidmetal patents, recently announced he was leaving Apple.

Today's patent explains how Liquidmetal's high elasticity makes it an ideal material for a pressure-sensitive home button that would deform slightly when pressed, but return to its normal shape when you remove your finger or thumb. Liquidmetal would always retain this elasticity, while other materials like titanium or stainless steel could become irreversibly deformed and adversely affect the home button.

A second embodiment of the patent details a home button with a switch comprising a small actuator positioned adjacent to Liquidmetal material, whereby pressing the actuator deforms the bulk solidifying amorphous alloy. The efficient design could be easier for Apple to manufacture compared to conventional pressure-sensitive home buttons

Apple Obsoletes Mid 2010 15-Inch and 17-Inch MacBook Pros

Apple has updated its vintage and obsolete products list with three new products: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010), MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010), and Xserve (Early 2009).

The older notebooks and server rack hardware are now classified as vintage in the United States and Turkey, and obsolete in the rest of the world, according to Apple.

Macs and other products on the vintage and obsolete list are generally no longer eligible for hardware service, but OS X El Capitan still supports many older Macs back to Mid 2007. Apple defines vintage products as those that have not been manufactured for more than five but less than seven years.

The new additions come less than three months after Apple obsoleted select early 2008 to late 2009 Macs, including the iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2009), iMac (27-inch, Late 2009), MacBook Air (Mid 2009), Mac Pro (Early 2009), MacBook (13-inch, Early 2008), MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2008), and MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2008).

The MacBook Pro models obsoleted today were originally announced on April 13, 2010. Read how to identify your MacBook Pro model.

ExxonMobil Now Supports Apple Pay in 'Speedpass+' App

Following an announcement in January, ExxonMobil today officially launched Apple Pay support within its Speedpass+ iOS app, letting customers pay for gas or car washes directly from their iPhone (via CNET). Although most of ExxonMobil's stations come equipped with an RFID station for mobile payments, the company decided to focus on software within the app to further streamline the transaction process.
"Anything that involves the pump from a hardware point of view takes years to deploy and is extremely expensive," Bryant Russell, Americas program manager for mobile payment and loyalty at ExxonMobil, said during a demo of the app at the San Mateo gas station.
The rollout today will be seen at more than 6,000 ExxonMobil gas stations in 46 states, with a goal to expand to 2,000 by the summer and all 10,000 locations across the United States by the end of 2016.

The Speedpass+ app will use GPS to check the exact location a user is at, ask which pump they are using, and confirm the purchase with Touch ID. Locations with spotty GPS will be guided through a QR code-scanning step or manual search process within the app.

Once payment in the app is finished, users have "about 45 seconds" to start pumping gas, or Speedpass+ will time out and require users to start over from the beginning. Similar to Apple's own Wallet app, Speedpass+ will track the purchase history of every transaction at ExxonMobil locations.

Last year, Chevron launched a pilot program for Apple Pay -- using NFC terminals -- in a focused location within the Bay Area. ExxonMobil's widespread introduction

Prosecutors Ask Judge to Review Pro-Apple Ruling in New York Case

The U.S. Justice Department yesterday appealed a New York federal judge's refusal to force Apple to help investigators unlock the iPhone of a suspected Brooklyn drug dealer.

Last week, magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled that the FBI lacked the legal authority to force Apple to bypass the iPhone's passcode, and that the prosecution's use of the 1789 All Writs Act was an unconstitutional overreach.

On Monday, Reuters reported that prosecutors are now hoping to overturn the ruling and yesterday's filing to the court of U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie is the official first step in such an appeal.

"In light of the debate that has recently come to surround this issue, it is worth briefly noting what this case is not about," the Justice Department's court filing said. "Apple is not being asked to do anything it does not currently have the capability to do."
All of Apple’s pre-iOS 8 operating systems allowed for extracting data from a passcode-locked device. Apple has used that capability dozens of times, in response to lawful court orders like the one sought here, with no claim that doing so put customer data or privacy in harm’s way.

Apple may perform the passcode-bypass in its own lab, using its own technicians, just as it always has, without revealing to the government how it did so. Therefore, granting the application will not affect the technological security of any Apple iPhone nor hand the government a 'master key'.
The All Writs Act is the same act that the agency has revived to order Apple to unlock the iPhone at the center of the San Bernardino shooter

Tim Cook, Tech CEOs and Top Republicans Attend Secretive Meeting About Donald Trump

Tim Cook attended American Enterprise Institute's annual World Forum this past weekend in Georgia alongside Google CEO Larry Page, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and other tech leaders, according to a new report from The Huffington Post. Top Republican officials, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton also attended, with the main topic of conversation revolving around Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and political commentator, wrote in an emailed report that much of the conference was haunted by "the specter of Donald Trump," with many attendees unhappy about his emergence and discussing how he gained his support.
"The key task now, to once again paraphrase Karl Marx, is less to understand Trump than to stop him," Kristol wrote. "In general, there's a little too much hand-wringing, brow-furrowing, and fatalism out there and not quite enough resolving to save the party from nominating or the country electing someone who simply shouldn't be president."
Some sources familiar with the meetings told The Huffington Post that the meeting centered more around how and why Trump has attracted support rather than how to stop him. The meeting included a presentation by Republican political consultant Karl Rove about focus group findings on Trump.

While Trump took up much of the conversation, the discussion eventually turned to encryption. Cook and Cotton "fiercely debated" cell phone encryption, and one source tells The Huffington Post that "Cotton was

Apple Approves 'FlexBright' iOS App That Adjusts Display Temperature [Update: Pulled]

FlexBright, an app that allows the user to manually adjust the display temperature of an iOS device, was recently approved by Apple, marking one of the first third-party apps that's able to function in a manner similar to the company's own Night Shift mode, set to be released in iOS 9.3. The only catch is it must be triggered somewhat manually in response to a notification, rather than continuously, like Night Shift or f.lux.

Currently available for download in the App Store, FlexBright was created by Intelligent Apps, who worked with Apple to find a way to implement blue light reduction capabilities. The app includes controls that allow it to both dim an iPhone or iPad's display and adjust the display temperature to cut down on blue light exposure.

FlexBright runs in the background on an iPhone or iPad, sending notifications to prompt users to change the brightness or the blue level on the display at sundown or at user-specified times. After tapping on the alert, FlexBright launches and changes the brightness or blue light filter to a preset value, which can introduce a lot more yellow light than Apple's own Night Shift mode in iOS 9.3. FlexBright's screen adjustments work throughout the iOS operating system, in third-party apps and on the Home screen.

According to one of the developers behind FlexBright, using this notification system was the only way Apple would allow the app to change brightness or blue light while running in the background. The app does not use private APIs to change the screen temperature, instead utilizing a "native objective-c library

Transmission Malware Transmitted Through Server Hack, Downloaded 6,500 Times

Over the weekend, the first instance of Mac ransomware was found in a malicious update to the Transmission BitTorrent client. Version 2.90 of Transmission downloaded from the Transmission website was infected with "KeRanger" ransomware.

"Ransomware" is a class of malware that encrypts a user's hard drive and files, demanding money to decrypt it. In this case, KeRanger would have required Mac users to shell out a bitcoin for decryption, equivalent to approximately $400.

The developers behind Transmission have shared some additional details on the attack with Reuters, giving us some insight into how it occurred. The server that delivers the Transmission software to customers was breached in a cyber attack, allowing the KeRanger malware to be added to the disk-image of its software.
Transmission representative John Clay told Reuters via email that the ransomware was added to disk-image of its software after the project's server was compromised in a cyber attack.

"We're not commenting on the avenue of attack, other than to say that it was our main server that was compromised," he said. "The normal disk image (was) replaced by the compromised one."
During the time that the malware-infected version of Transmission was available, it was downloaded approximately 6,500 times before the vulnerability was discovered. Security on the server has since been increased, ensuring a similar attack can't occur a second time.

On Sunday, Transmission's developers released software updates to block the malicious software and to remove it from the Macs of users who had unwittingly