Review: Standzout's Helix Dock for Apple Watch is Compact and Convenient

HelixWhile I have long used the Twelve South Forté on my bedside table to dock my Apple Watch each night, I lacked a convenient alternative for on the go until last week. Enter the Standzout Helix Dock, a compact and convenient charging solution for the Apple Watch.

Helix is an Apple Watch dock made from injection molded polycarbonate plastic. It stores between a 0.3-meter and two-meter Apple Watch charging cable and Apple's official USB wall charger in a compact and convenient housing, available in clear, black, white, and a phosphorescent glow-in-the-dark color options.

➜ Click here to read more...

Small Number of SwiftKey Users Discover App Leaked Private Data to Strangers

A week after launching a new emoji-predicting keyboard, SwiftKey is now facing some pushback after a few users noticed that the main SwiftKey app was propagating suggestions related to the email accounts, phone numbers, and names of complete strangers (via The Telegraph). The Microsoft-owned app, available on iOS and Android, is widely known for its artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, which create custom word predictions based on what each user has previously typed.

In order to fully take advantage of these features, SwiftKey accesses various personal bits of information -- previous texts, emails, and regularly used names and phrases -- to bolster its database, with a synchronization feature that keeps all of a user's data updated across various devices. Now, one SwiftKey user has discovered that someone unknown to them was given access to this data thanks to the app's predictive features. Thankfully, the stranger was helpful in informing the compromised user about their privacy slip.

swiftkeythemes
"A few days ago, I received an email from a complete stranger asking if I had recently purchased and returned a particular model of mobile phone, adding that not one but two of my email addresses (one personal and one work address) were saved on the phone she had just bought as brand-new," said the user. "It also suggested, when she typed a zero, the telephone number for someone I had phoned recently."
According to the anonymous source, the stranger went through every letter in the alphabet and got predictive suggestions of the affected user's contact list and even the address of private servers used to connect to the internet at their workplace. A similar occurrence happened for one Redditor recently, but this time it crossed a language barrier as well, with German predictions of private information suggested for a user in the United Kingdom.

According to SwiftKey, the problem stems from a bug in that synchronization feature, so the company has deactivated syncing information across devices until it can get to the root of the problem. A spokesperson for the company said, "Recently, a limited number of our customers noticed unexpected words pre-populating when typing on their mobile phone," but promised users that the app is "okay to use" in the meantime given the low number of users affected and that their personal data will not be lost while the sync ability is down.

Tag: SwiftKey

WhatsApp Security Flaw Leaves 'Trace of All Your Chats' Even After Deletion

whatsappPopular third-party chat app WhatsApp is leaving a "forensic trace" of every supposedly deleted chat log, meaning anyone with access to your smartphone -- or another device connected through the cloud -- could potentially access data from the app. The discovery comes from iOS researcher Jonathan Zdziarski, who shared the information in a blog post after discovering the potential security flaw in the latest version of WhatsApp (via The Verge).

Zdziarski tested out his theory by beginning a few chat threads, then archiving, clearing, and deleting them, but found that none of the app's deletion methods, even Clear All Chats, "made any difference in how deleted records were preserved." The central flaw appeared to be in the app's SQLite records, which retained the deleted chats in its database that could be accessed by a harmful individual with the right "popular forensics tools."

In his post, Zdziarski mentioned that the problem isn't unique to WhatsApp, and has even gone into detail about "forensic trace leakage" in Messages on iOS and OS X, and ways Apple could address such privacy issues, in a separate blog post. He explained succinctly that short-lived chats between friends and family using these apps are "not ephemeral on disk," which not only could be a cause for concern with users, but could allow law enforcement legal access to thought-to-be-deleted WhatsApp messages thanks to the lack of encrypted communication between WhatsApp and iCloud.
The core issue here is that ephemeral communication is not ephemeral on disk. This is a problem that Apple has struggled with as well, which I’ve explained and made design recommendations recently in this blog post.

Apple’s iMessage has this problem and it’s just as bad, if not worse. Your SMS.db is stored in an iCloud backup, but copies of it also exist on your iPad, your desktop, and anywhere else you receive iMessages. Deleted content also suffers the same fate.
All the same, Zdziarski caps his post by mentioning there's no reason for widespread panic to ignite because of the WhatsApp security flaw, mainly due to the fact that someone with malicious intent would need to jump through so many hoops to finally access the deleted messages. The iOS researcher stated that his purpose was for users to simply "be aware of WhatsApp’s footprint." He also gives a few options for users looking to mitigate the issue, including periodically deleting WhatsApp "to flush out the database," disabling iCloud backups, and avoiding the storage of backup passwords in Apple's keychain.

Earlier in the year, Apple reiterated its intent to double down on user privacy and safety within its iCloud platform. Currently, encrypted data saved in iCloud is accessible by Apple with a key, which grants it access to accounts for assistive purposes, like if someone forgets their password. However, with the steadily growing data amassing in users' iCloud accounts -- from texts to pictures and personal health data -- Apple is looking to provide end-to-end encryption in its cloud-based storage platform, meaning not even the company itself could gain access to the accounts of its users even if it wanted to.

Check out Zdziarski's blog post for more details on the issue.

Tag: WhatsApp

Nest Update Lets Users Control Smart Thermostat From Their Apple Watch

Hinted at by the company earlier in the month, Nest recently debuted a minor, but notable, update for its iOS app, introducing a few user interface tweaks and ways to share live videos from the company's indoor and outdoor cameras. For those users with a Nest Thermostat and an Apple Watch, the 5.6.0 update should be of particular interest, since it brings with it the ability to let you adjust the temperature of your home, right from your wrist, without needing to open the iOS app (via The Verge).

Additionally, there's a new "Spaces" grouping feature that provides an organized way to place Nest products by which room of the house they're in, and lets users view all of their live camera feeds at once, if on Wi-Fi. Additional viewers can be added into these live streams now, as well, thanks to a new web-based site, video.nest.com (which doesn't appear to be up-and-running at the time of writing), where a password can be shared to a trusted third party who might need to check in on the cameras.

Nest apple watch
Image via The Verge

Nest detailed the full list of updates in the App Store:
We have several new features for you.

- Spaces groups your Nest products by room and lets you see all your cameras at once. And if you’re connected to Wi-Fi, shows you all of their live views.

- Share a password protected live view of your camera. Now grandma can see what the kids are up to at video.nest.com.

- 1080p support for Dropcam Pro.

- Automatic video quality adjustment helps make sure you get a continuous, clear picture.

- We’ve also added support for Apple Watch. You can now control your Nest Thermostat from your wrist.
Nest has faced a few public-facing appearance issues in the past, centered around the lengthy gaps between product releases, and some software issues with the Nest Protect line of smoke detectors that ultimately led to a product-wide recall. In June, Nest co-founder Tony Fadell announced that he was leaving the company to "create and disrupt other industries," while speculation from workers inside the company suggested many Nest employees "complained publicly about Fadell's management, while claiming the business had missed sales targets, botched upgrades and delayed future products."

The Nest iOS app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, watchOS 3
Tag: Nest
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

New iMovie for iOS Update Makes it Easier to Start and Share Projects

imovieApple today updated iMovie for iOS, its consumer-oriented video editing app designed for iPhones and iPads. iMovie version 2.2.3 makes it easier to start and share projects and it includes unspecified stability and performance improvements.

iMovie users are now able to start projects more quickly by selecting multiple photos and videos to insert into a project, and there are options for sharing to Facebook or Vimeo using the iOS share interface. Today’s update also brings support for Shared iPad, an educational feature that debuted as part of iOS 9.3.

With Shared iPad functionality, iMovie will now work for each student who accesses the app on a shared iPad.
What’s New
- Start projects quickly by selecting multiple photos and videos
- Share to Facebook and Vimeo using the standard iOS share interface
- Support for Shared iPad in iOS 9.3 or later
- Stability and performance improvements
Prior to today’s update, iMovie last saw an update in April of 2016, bringing minor improvements. The last major update to the software came in September of 2015 when iMovie 2.2 was introduced, bringing support for 4K video and 3D Touch.

iMovie for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]

Tag: iMovie

Protecting Your Privacy in Safari for iOS

safari ios iconEvery time you visit a website on your iPhone or iPad, you are sharing information about yourself with the outside world. This guide runs through a number of methods you can use to gain more control over what gets shared, and who it gets shared with, whenever you use Apple's Safari browser to access the web on an iOS device.

It also covers some methods you can use to prevent traces of your browsing history from showing up on your iOS devices. While you may trust friends and family not to go searching through your web history, it's possible for them to unintentionally discover what you've been looking at, just by using Safari or performing a simple Spotlight search on your iPhone or iPad.

The guide assumes you are using the latest public release of iOS 9.3 (9.3.3 as of initial writing). If your device is running an older version, a message should have appeared on the screen that an update is available. Connect your device to a power source and then tap "Install Now" on the message to download the update over the air, or open the Settings app and tap General -> Software Update, and then tap "Download and Install".

Alternatively, connect your device to a computer with an internet connection and with the latest version of iTunes 12 installed. Open iTunes, select your device (a device icon should appear just below the playback controls), click "Summary" in the sidebar, and then click "Check for Update" in the Summary screen. Click "Download and Update" if an update dialog appears.

Cookies, Location Services, and Tracking


Many websites attempt to store cookies and other web page data on iOS devices. Cookies are small data files that can include things like your IP address, device type, web browser version, the date you last visited the site, as well as any personal information you have provided, such as your name, email address, and any relevant preferences. This information is used to identify you when you revisit a site, so that it can offer tailored services, provide specific content, or display targeted ads.

Websites are increasingly upfront about their use of cookies – you've probably seen notices on popular sites requesting that you acknowledge their use. That's largely because EU law requires sites based within its borders to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve cookie data, and as of September 2015, Google requires that any website using its advertising products comply with the law if any of its users are inside the EU, regardless of where the site itself is based.

safariios8
By default, Safari accepts cookies and website data only from websites you visit, and attempts to block third-party cookies that try to target you with ads or create a profile of your online activities. If you don't like the idea of being tracked at all, you can selectively block the use of cookies by following the numbered steps below. Note however that some pages might not work unless you allow the use of cookies, so if you run into login problems or other issues on familiar sites after adjusting these settings, then you might want to dial back the changes.

➜ Click here to read more...

Tags: Safari, privacy

Apple Engineer to Discuss iOS Security at 2016 Black Hat Event

Apple engineer Ivan Krstic is scheduled to host a discussion at this year's Black Hat Conference, offering a "Behind the Scenes" look at iOS security. Black Hat is an annual event designed for the global InfoSec community, giving security professionals a place to meet up and gain training on new techniques.

According to an overview of Krstic's talk, three iOS security mechanisms will be discussed in "unprecedented technical detail," including the first public discussion of Auto Unlock, a feature new to iOS 10.

blackhat
HomeKit, Auto Unlock and iCloud Keychain are three Apple technologies that handle exceptionally sensitive user data - controlling devices (including locks) in the user's home, the ability to unlock a user's Mac from an Apple Watch, and the user's passwords and credit card information, respectively. We will discuss the cryptographic design and implementation of our novel secure synchronization fabric which moves confidential data between devices without exposing it to Apple, while affording the user the ability to recover data in case of device loss.
Krstic will also cover the Secure Enclave Processor present in iOS devices that include the iPhone 5s and later, creating a discussion around how it enabled a new approach to Data Protection key derivation and brute force rate limiting within a small TCB, and he'll cover browser-based vulnerabilities and new protective features in iOS 10 Safari.

The 2016 Black Hat Conference will take place from July 30 to August 4 at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tickets are priced at $2,595.

iPad Continues to Outsell Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft Tablets Combined

Apple released its fiscal third quarter earnings results earlier this week, confirming that it sold 9.95 million iPads from early March through late June. iPad shipments have now declined for ten consecutive quarters, but the lineup continues to outsell all Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft tablets combined.

iPad-Surface-Samsung
Taiwanese market research firm TrendForce has released new quarterly data that shows Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft shipped an estimated 6 million, 2.2 million, and 700,000 units respectively for a combined total of 9.5 million, amounting to roughly 450,000 fewer tablets than the number of iPads sold.

Despite the shipment decline, reflective of a continued slowdown in the broader tablet market, Apple's tablet revenue increased for the first time in ten quarters due to the iPad Pro's higher average selling price. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro starts at $599, whereas the iPad Air 2 started at $499, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is priced from $799.

In terms of shipments, however, TrendForce says the iPad Air 2 was the key driver:
“The lack of changes in appearance and high prices work against the iPad Pro series. Consumers do not see these devices as a good bargain. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro maintained strong sales momentum for two quarters, while the 9.7-inch model lost its luster after just one quarter since its release. On the whole, the Pro series did not help expand iPad shipments in the second quarter as expected. The overall sales were instead sustained by iPad Air 2, which captured consumers’ interest with its reduced price tag.”
Worldwide tablet shipments in the June quarter totaled an estimated 33.54 million units, representing a quarterly drop of 4.8 percent and a year-on-year decline of 8.8 percent. Lenovo, Huawei, and ASUS were also among the top six vendors, with estimated shipments of 2.4 million, 2.2 million, and 800,000 tablets respectively.

With no new iPads models anticipated in the immediate future, TrendForce estimates Apple's tablet sales will drop to 9.2 million sequentially.

Twitter Debuts 'Stickers' as it Faces Slowest Revenue Growth in Three Years

Twitter today will begin rolling out its new "Stickers" feature for iOS and Android devices, which it first announced in June, letting users choose from a set of custom-made stickers in order to customize photos before posting them to the micro-blogging social network. The update brings Twitter a step closer to the comical editing capabilities of Snapchat, where users can place, enlarge, and filter emojis layered on top of their pictures.

But, ahead of the official launch of Stickers, Twitter reported "its slowest revenue growth since going public in 2013." As reported by Reuters earlier this week, Twitter's most recent earnings forecast referenced a "disappointing" near future for the company as it struggles to keep pace with services that are catching fire, like Snapchat and Instagram.

Twitter Stickers launch

Overall, this year the company's user base expanded 1 percent from Q1 (310 million monthly active users) to Q2 (313 million MAU). Revenue during the second quarter also hit below expectations, as the company's current quarter forecast of between $590 million and $610 million fell below analyst estimates of about $678.18 million.

The question now for investors, and executives at Twitter, is whether the service should pivot into a "niche product," now that its days of booming growth are behind it, and most people sticking around are longtime, loyal users. Either way, the company is said to have a plan in mind to turn things around, focusing on five key areas: its core service, live-streaming video, the site's "creators and influencers," safety, and developers.
"Clearly, the turnaround is still a work in progress and the question of whether being a platform for a mass audience versus a niche audience needs to be answered," said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co.

"We are a year into Dorsey coming back and there is really no end in sight of when it is going to start picking up to where investors are going to be happy," said Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
During the earnings call (which the company has streamed on its own live-streaming app Periscope in the past), CEO Jack Dorsey pointed out small, incremental changes brought to Twitter that he believes will help make bigger differences in public opinion in the long run. These amount to gaining the most out of its 140 character limit, including not counting links and mentions -- and soon media links -- in a tweet's character count. Presumably, beginning today, he and Twitter also hope Stickers will help bridge the divide between potential new users and their reluctance to commit to the service.

Those interested can learn more about Stickers here, and anyone who has yet to do so can get the Twitter app for free from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Twitter

Google Play Debuts 'Family Library' for Sharing Purchases Across Devices

Google this morning announced "Family Library" for Google Play that allows six family members to share their online purchases from the company's stores across devices.

The new program means movies, TV shows, and books can be shared by families on iOS devices and the web, as well as over connected TV platforms like Roku and Smart TVs, with no sign-up fee required.

Google Family-Library
Starting today, Family Library is rolling out over the next few days and will be available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S.

Meanwhile, up to six people can continue to share streamed music using Google Play Music's existing $14.99-a-month family plan, which today expanded to Ireland, Italy, Mexico, and New Zealand.


Users of Family Library can access a new setting in the Play Store, where one person is designated "Family Manager" and they can then add other members. Member purchases are shared by everyone by default, although an option to selectively share purchases is also available.

Lastly, the system supports pre-configured Parental Control settings on children's devices, and parents can approve purchases requested by younger family members.

Samsung Reports Highest Profit in Two Years on Robust Galaxy S7 Sales

Samsung reported its best earning results in two years on Thursday as the company's Galaxy S7 phones outperformed all expectations, despite slowing growth in the overall smartphone industry (via The New York Times).

The South Korean company announced a 8.14 trillion won ($7.22 billion) operating profit on revenue of 50.94 trillion won ($45.2 billion), up 18 percent from the previous year.

samsung_logo
The firm's key mobile division, which accounts for more than half its revenue, experienced "substantial earnings improvement" as its high-end Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones enjoyed expanded sales, despite competition from Apple's iPhones and by lower-end devices from Chinese rivals like Xiaomi and Huawei.

Samsung forecast "solid" performance for the rest of the year despite increased competition as "other companies release new mobile devices", thanks to strong demand for its components, such as OLED displays, which the company expected to increase "substantially".

The company is also betting on an uptick in revenue generated by next week's unveiling of its Galaxy "Note 7" smartphone, which is thought to feature an edge-to-edge curved screen, an iris scanner, and potentially a USB Type-C port.


The good news for Samsung came two days after its arch-rival Apple revealed its second consecutive year-on-year declines in quarterly revenue and iPhone sales, although the reported dips were smaller than analysts predicted.

In stark contrast to the marked popularity of Samsung's high-end devices, Apple's lower-cost iPhone SE was the bright spot in the Cupertino company's earnings call, gaining more traction than expected and going some way to soothe investor's concerns over growth.

Prior to the earnings call, Apple stock had lost more than a fifth of their value over the year amid mounting concerns about the slowdown. Despite worries, Apple's shares jumped as much as 7.5 percent on news of its Q3 results, as investors remained optimistic in the run-up to the company's iPhone 7 launch this September.

According to a recent report by Kantar Worldpanel, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 devices accounted for 16 percent of mobile purchases made by U.S. customers this year, while only 14.6 percent opted for an iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus.

Growth in the smartphone industry will slow to 3.1 percent this year, down from 11 percent last year and 28 percent in 2014, according to researcher IDC.

Tag: Samsung

Review: Jaybird's Freedom Wireless Earbuds Are Tiny While Still Offering Great Sound

Logitech-owned Jaybird has been designing Bluetooth earbuds since 2007 and has established itself as a manufacturer known for creating quality headphones ideal for working out.

Jaybird's latest product, Freedom, is the culmination of years of design refinements. The Freedom Wireless Buds are Jaybird's smallest and most comfortable yet, with a sleek sweat-proof design, multipoint pairing, and up to eight hours of battery life. As with most products, there are some downsides, so make sure to read on to find out what to expect from Jaybird's latest product.


Design and Fit


Jaybird's Freedom Buds are tiny, a feat achieved by moving many of the audio components from the earbuds themselves to the remote control. Jaybird sells the Freedom in a range of colors from white and black to red and blue, with the earbuds themselves made from metal with plastic accents.

➜ Click here to read more...

Tag: Jaybird