Tim Hardwick

Tim is a Contributing Editor at MacRumors. He has been covering technology for almost a decade, but will write about anything that interests him, from philosophy of mind to his own personal brand of bad fiction. Originally from Liverpool, England, Tim is currently between homes but can sometimes be found accessing a personal wi-fi hotspot from a ferry somewhere on the Mersey.



Dummy 'iPhone 8' Images Appear Online Suggesting Touch ID Embedded in Edge-to-Edge Display

Pictures of a dummy "iPhone 8" model appeared on social media over the weekend depicting a handset with a front and rear made of what looks like 2.5D curved glass and a stainless steel edge design. The dummy device is purportedly a "CNC model according to Foxconn", according to the original Twitter poster, but there's no way to verify the claim one way or the other, so take the following with a big pinch of salt. The front of the device appears to have an edge-to-edge screen with no discernible bezels, while around the back there's a vertically aligned dual-lens camera, but no other identifiable markings. That includes no rear-mounted Touch ID sensor, but also no Apple logo, either. The sides look like stainless steel, similar to those of the iPhone 4. There are volume buttons and a mute switch on the left, and a power button and SIM tray on the right. The power button appears to be longer than on previous iPhones, however. The poster of the images offered additional details supposedly from a source with links to Foxconn, suggesting that the "iPhone 8" will have a thickness and size similar to the current iPhone 7, while the steel edges will be finished in a polished "Space Black" color. Apart from a further image showing off the latter feature, the poster has also shown off schematics "based on blueprints" that depict a series of components hidden beneath the top of the display, where the edges of the display are indicated by a red outline. An alleged schematic of the internal components of the next iPhone has also been shared. Apple is thought

Tim Cook Threatened to Remove Uber From the App Store Over iPhone Tagging Tactics

Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to pull Uber's app from the App Store in early 2015 after discovering the ride-hailing company was secretly "fingerprinting" iPhones that used the app, it emerged on Sunday. The claim appeared in a New York Times report profiling Uber's risk-taking chief executive Travis Kalanick, who was apparently summoned to Apple's campus for a face-to-face meeting with Cook over the app's behavior. Travis Kalanick (left) and Tim Cook at a 2016 fashion gala (Image: Reuters) According to the report, Uber was trying to prevent fraudsters from creating multiple fake accounts on the same device to collect new account bonuses, but to do this it had been recording the UUID serial numbers of iPhones so that it could identify them even after the app had been deleted and the phone wiped. Knowing that the approach was a clear violation of Apple's app privacy guidelines, Uber implemented the tactic regardless, and even went so far as to geofence Apple's Cupertino campus so that Apple engineers using the app wouldn't see its fingerprinting behavior. Mr. Kalanick told his engineers to "geofence" Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., a way to digitally identify people reviewing Uber’s software in a specific location. Uber would then obfuscate its code from people within that geofenced area, essentially drawing a digital lasso around those it wanted to keep in the dark. Apple employees at its headquarters were unable to see Uber’s fingerprinting.However, the tactic didn't go unnoticed by Apple engineers for long. Soon after the discovery was made, Tim

Apple Confirms iCloud Subscription Tier Cancelation Emails Were Sent in Error

Apple on Saturday emailed some iCloud users to apologize for a bug that caused them to receive an email earlier this week stating their paid storage subscription plan had been canceled. The emails went out to predominantly 50GB iCloud subscribers on Wednesday, causing some MacRumors readers to speculate that Apple was discontinuing the storage tier completely. Options to purchase some of the plans through macOS and iOS were also reportedly affected. However, as predicted, the emails were sent in error. Apple has now followed up the errant message to clarify that it was a mistake and that there has been no change to users' subscription plans. "You recently received an email incorrectly stating that your iCloud storage plan has been discontinued," the email read. "Your 50 GB iCloud storage plan is not affected and will continue to renew automatically. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have any questions, please contact us." (Via AppleInsider.)

Galaxy S8 Camera Said to Beat iPhone 7 Plus in Low Light Conditions

Samsung's new flagship Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones went on sale today in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Korea, as the company looks to rebound from last year's Note7 debacle. Samsung will be encouraged by the record one million pre-orders it has already taken in Korea alone, while analysts are predicting global sales to reach at least 45 million units. The 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch devices cost $725 and $825, respectively, which gets users an OLED screen that takes up 80 percent of the front of the handsets. Online reviews appeared earlier this week praising the phones' Infinity Display, but several marked them down for the relocation of the fingerprint scanner to the rear of the devices, right alongside the camera lens. The camera itself has received less coverage, as it's actually the same 12MP dual pixel module as the one that appeared in last year's Galaxy S7. However, Samsung has tweaked the software powering the f/1.7 lens in an attempt to improve image processing. To compare the results with those of the iPhone 7 Plus, Tom's Guide posted a selection of side-by-side comparison shots taken with the two rival phones. Overall, the Galaxy S8 came out on top, but only by a slight margin. Despite lackluster macro performance with the S8, both phones' bright light results were said to be generally equal, but Samsung's new device bested the iPhone 7 Plus in well-lit nighttime and low-light shots, offering "generally richer" colors, sharper subjects, and "significantly more detail" in indoor and outdoor tests. Despite the higher megapixel count of the S8's

Overcast Podcast App Gains Standalone Apple Watch Playback Feature

As of today, third-party podcast app Overcast lets users sync downloaded pods to their Apple Watch for standalone playback. The latest 3.1 update brings the much-requested feature to the popular podcast app, which was designed by Instapaper developer Marco Arment. To take advantage of the new feature, users should access the Queue Menu (⁺≡) and select the Send to Watch option. Pending transfers should appear in the Downloads screen. Overcast recently received a design overhaul to bring it up to speed with visual changes introduced in iOS 10. The latest update also includes a new dark app icon option for premium members (a $9.99 in-app purchase). Overcast 3.1 is available as a free ad-supported app for iPhone and iPad from the App Store. [Direct Link

WhatsApp Users Can Now Ask Siri to Read Out Their Latest Messages

WhatsApp users on iOS can now ask Siri to read to them their latest messages when they go handsfree, following the latest update to the chat app. Version 2.17.2 brings the feature to users running at least iOS 10.3 on their devices, along with some other tweaks and updates to the messaging platform. In the My Updates screen, it's now possible to select multiple statuses at once and forward or revoke them, and the old Voice Call icon has been replaced with a "+" icon, which when tapped displays a list of contacts for making both voice and video calls. Elsewhere, the two-step verification interface has been redesigned to make it easier to set up, while the Group Info, Contact Info, and Calls sections have also received interface overhauls to make them simpler to use. The camera now also remembers its last state of usage. Lastly, support for the Persian language has been added to the chat service. WhatsApp is available as a free download on the App Store for iPhone. [Direct Link]

Google Home Smart Speaker Now Supports Multiple Users

Google Home received a major update to its voice recognition system on Thursday that lets owners set up the smart speaker to recognize multiple account holders. The software update means that up to six people can connect their Google account to one speaker and Google Assistant will be able to distinguish users by the sound of their voice. Amazon is said to be working on a similar feature for its Echo range of devices. The feature works by listening to how individual users say the phrases "Ok Google" and "Hey Google", and then runs the samples through a neural network that can detect certain voice characteristics and match vocal analyses in a matter of milliseconds. Google says the process happens "only on your device" and the samples aren't sent anywhere else. ArsTechnica asked Google how confident it was in the speaker's ability to distinguish users only by voice. Google responded by explaining that the feature was still being refined. "We don't recommend that users rely upon voice identification as a security feature," said the company. To enable multi-user support, owners need the latest version of the Google Home app. If the app doesn't highlight the new feature, click the icon in the top right to see all connected devices. After selecting the Google Home speaker from the list, tap "Link your account" and the app will run through the process that teaches Google Assistant to recognize your voice. The feature began rolling out in the U.S. yesterday, and Google says it will expand to the U.K. "in the coming months".

Aircharge Announces Wireless iPhone Charging Case for BMW iDrive Ecosystem

Aircharge and BMW have teamed up to offer a customized wireless charging case for iPhones to take advantage of the new in-car wireless system that debuted in the BMW 5 Series Sedan earlier this year. The BMW 5 Series Sedan was one of the first cars to include wireless CarPlay support, allowing iPhones to integrate with the BMW iDrive ecosystem over Bluetooth instead of a Lightning cable. In-car phone wireless charging is also standard in the 6 and 7 series and available as an option on the rest of the range. Integrating the smartphone into the vehicle's system allows the iPhone to be operated directly via the screen in the car, the iDrive Touch Controller, voice commands or gestures, avoiding potential distractions whilst at the wheel. Given that heavy usage of apps, navigation and music can drain a battery at the end of a drive, the addition of wireless charging solves this issue by keeping the device fully powered while in operation. With Apple yet to launch a smartphone with the wireless charging function integrated into its hardware, the German carmaker worked with Aircharge to design the case to add on the capabilities and bring the convenience of wireless charging to BMW owners. The case features a hard shell to protect the phone and a tactile finish, along with a total black look, and has engraved the BMW Group’s branding on the front and back. All Aircharge case models carry the official 'Made for iPhone' MFi certification by Apple and are also certified to the global wireless charging standard Qi. The Aircharge case is currently available

MasterCard Reveals Credit Card With Built-In Fingerprint Sensor

MasterCard today unveiled a biometric chip-and-pin credit card featuring a built-in fingerprint sensor that takes cues from mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay. The card can be used to make purchases like any other, except rather than keying in a PIN number, card holders can choose to place their finger over the square sensor to approve the transaction. Alternatively, users can take a two-tier authentication approach and use both their PIN and fingerprint to approve the purchase. However, users of the card won't have the convenience or security that comes with registering their print with their smartphone. With Apple Pay, fingerprint data is encrypted and protected with a key available only to the Secure Enclave on the user's iPhone. The Secure Enclave is walled off from the rest of the hardware and the OS, meaning iOS and other apps never have access to user fingerprint data, it's never stored on Apple servers, and never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else. The biometric credit card has no such protections. Instead, the user must register their print with the bank or financial institution that issued the card, and while the fingerprint is encrypted on the card itself, it's still unclear what security and privacy measures are in place to deal with the registration process. Despite those concerns, Mastercard's chief of safety and security, Ajay Bhalla, said that the fingerprint technology was "not something that can be taken or replicated", and that the biometric card would help "to deliver additional convenience and security". MasterCard

Amazon Opens Alexa's Deep Learning and Voice Recognition Smarts to Chatbot Developers

Amazon on Wednesday made the AI and voice-recognition software that powers the company's Alexa virtual assistant available to all its cloud-computing customers. Called Amazon Lex, the service will allow developers to make chat bot applications using Alexa's voice recognition technology and leverage the AI's deep learning abilities to enable their apps to understand more text and speech queries. Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said that Amazon's cloud-based work in processing how humans write and speak would make chat bots more helpful than the clunky tools they've been in the past. "There's massive acceleration happening here," said Vogels, speaking to Reuters at the company's cloud-computing summit in San Francisco. "The cool thing about having this running as a service in the cloud instead of in your own data center or on your own desktop is that we can make Lex better continuously by the millions of customers that are using it."Similar to how it operates its other cloud-based services, Amazon will charge developers based on how many text or voice requests Lex processes. The company's hope is that its Alexa technology will take center stage in the current e-commerce boom based around chatbots. This week, Facebook announced its own virtual assistant called M, which can help users order food, while MasterCard also launched its own Messenger merchant bots for food deliveries. Amazon's move comes fast on the heels of similar announcements by the company, as it aims to head off competition in the virtual assistant space by rivals Apple and Google. Just last week Amazon

MasterCard Shopping Chatbots Now Taking Orders on Facebook Messenger

MasterCard added its digital wallet Masterpass to Facebook Messenger this week, enabling consumers to place online orders via the chat platform with just a few clicks. The rollout is still in the initial stages but the payment system is already available for some food merchants, including Subway, The Cheesecake Factory, and FreshDirect. The transaction process involves searching for and interacting with a Messenger chat bot to specify the order from a range of options. The user then arranges a pick-up or delivery location, followed by checkout confirmation, where they pay for the order via Masterpass. With 1.2 billion users on Messenger, MasterCard hopes the feature will boost fast food sales online by removing the need for consumers to type in their card information for every transaction. Instead, consumers load their card number and other identifying information onto the digital wallets and then use the wallets for faster shopping. That said, users still need to input their password for every Masterpass transaction, so the system lacks the ease of use of biometric mobile payment systems like Apple Pay. MasterCard is said to be working on a similar solution. MasterCard's plans to bring merchant transaction bots to Facebook's chat service where revealed in October. The credit card company also unveiled plans for bank bots, through which users can ask questions about their account, look at purchase history, monitor spending levels, receive financial assistance, and more.

Bose Wireless Headphones Spy on Listeners, Lawsuit Alleges

Bose has been hit by a lawsuit that accuses the company of spying on its wireless headphone customers through its Bose Connect mobile app and violating consumer privacy rights (via Reuters). The complaint was filed on Tuesday in a Chicago federal court by Kyle Zak, who is seeking an injunction to stop Bose's "wholesale disregard" for the privacy of customers who download the app to their smartphones. The lawsuit alleges that Bose tracks the listening habits of users when they are wearing headsets like the company's QuietComfort 35 headphones, gleaning information through the app such as music tracks played, podcasts, and other audio listened to. According to Zak, who bought a pair of $350 QC35 cans, Bose sends all available information to third parties such as Segment.io, a data capture outfit whose website promises to "collect all of your customer data and send it anywhere". "People should be uncomfortable with it," Christopher Dore, a lawyer representing Zak, said in an interview. "People put headphones on their head because they think it's private, but they can be giving out information they don't want to share." Audio choices offer "an incredible amount of insight" into customers' personalities, behavior, politics and religious views, the complaint said, citing as an example that a person who listens to Muslim prayers might "very likely" be a Muslim.Zak is seeking millions of dollars of damages for customers who bought Bose headphones and speakers, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color

Google Could Include Ad-Blocker in Future Versions of Chrome Browser

Google is planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature in both the mobile and desktop versions of its Chrome web browser, according to sources who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. The feature could be turned on by default within Chrome and would be designed to filter out certain online ad types that result in poor user experiences on the web, as defined by industry group the Coalition for Better Ads. According to the coalition's standards, ad formats like pop-ups, auto-playing ads with audio, and ads with countdown timers fall under "a threshold of consumer acceptability" and could therefore be targets of any blocker. Google could announce the feature within weeks, according to the paper's sources, but it is still working out specific details and could still decide to reverse course and can the feature. One possible implementation of the filter includes blocking all advertising on a website if it hosts just one offending ad, ensuring a set standard is kept by website owners. Another option is to target specific ads. For a company that generated over $60 billion in revenue from online advertising in 2016, the feature would seem a surprise move. However Google appears to be reacting against the growth of third-party blocking tools – some of which charge fees to let ads pass through their filters – by considering offering its own solution, which would let it control which ads pass through filters. In the U.S., Chrome commands nearly half of the browser market across all platforms, according to online analytics provider StatCounter.

Apple May Cut Imagination Tech Royalties By Two Thirds as it Winds Down Chip Deal

Apple is likely to pay out just one third of its current royalty rate to Imagination Technologies as it begins winding down its supply deal with the chipmaker over the next two years, according to analysts at UBS financial services (via Reuters). The prediction includes the expectation that British-based Imagination will become loss-making by 2019 without any Apple royalties to fall back on, and that the firm will have to work out a cost-cutting strategy if it is to survive. Earlier this month, shares in Imagination plunged after Apple informed the company that it plans to stop using its graphics technology in Apple consumer devices in up to two years' time. The news delivered a huge blow to Imagination Technologies, which provides the PowerVR graphics architecture found in Apple's full range of iOS devices and receives a small royalty on every sale, amounting to up to half of the British firm's revenue. Imagination said Apple had made the decision because the tech giant was developing its own independent graphics processing chips, which would reduce its reliance on the company. Imagination is reportedly in talks with Apple over a new licensing deal, but UBS analysts forecast that Apple is likely to bring down the royalty rate, currently at around $0.30 per unit, to closer to $0.10, which is the rate Imagination currently charges customers such as MediaTek. Valuing Imagination based on discounted cash flows, UBS estimated the company's Apple business is worth 75 pence per share. Without Apple, the stock tumbles to just 35 pence. That totals 110

Internet Archive Offers In-Browser Emulation of Classic Macintosh Software, Circa 1984-1989

This week the Internet Archive website announced it has curated a range of classic Macintosh software for interested users to download and emulate in their browser, allowing them to get a feel for Apple days of yesteryear. The selection spans the period 1984-1989 in Macintosh history, and features classic applications like MacPaint and MacDraft, System Software 6, and games including Dark Castle, Airborne! and Lemmings. If you've not experienced the original operating system for the Macintosh family of computers, it's an interesting combination of well-worn conventions in the modern world, along with choices that might seem strange or off-the-mark. At the time the machine was released, however, they landed new ideas in the hands of a worldwide audience and gained significant fans and followers almost immediately.In addition, the compilation of System 7.0.1 includes a large variety of software programs and provides a vintage recreation of the later MacOS experience of 1991. Some features that System 7 boasted over its predecessor included virtual memory, personal file sharing, QuickTime, QuickDraw 3D, and an improved user interface. The full range of software can be found in the Macintosh Collection. The emulator itself comes prepackaged in each listing and does not require a separate

Xiaomi Unveils $360 Mi 6 Phone With Dual-Lens Camera, 'Four-Sided 3D Glass' Casing, No Headphone Jack

Chinese mobile maker Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 6, its latest flagship smartphone, at a packed-out event in Beijing on Wednesday. The Mi 5's successor features curved "four-sided 3D glass" and a front that isn't bezel-free like the company's Mi MIX, but the phone does boast a lot of tech for a device that starts at 2499 RMB, or $360 – about half of what a base iPhone 7 goes for in China. Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the new 5.15-inch Mi 6 includes a 12-megapixel rear dual lens camera combining a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens. It also matches Apple's latest smartphone with 10x digital zoom, 2x lossless zoom, image stabilization, and depth of field effects. Similar to the Mi 5s, the Mi 6 features a Qualcomm-based ultrasonic fingerprint reader built under the glass at the bottom of the phone. The "button-less" technology is said to recognize a 3D map of each user's fingerprint through ultrasonic waves, although it only works within the bezel's concave indentation that marks out the home button. The Mi 6 includes 2x2 Wi-Fi, which is meant to improve connectivity speed, and does away with the headphone jack, settling for a single USB-C port instead. Elsewhere the handset features the latest Snapdragon 835 processor (also found in the S8), 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage memory on the entry model, dual stereo speakers, a 3,350mAh battery, a new "night display" screen mode, and water resistance. The Mi 6 with 128 GB option costs 2899 RMB ($420) while a special Ceramic edition goes for 2999 RMB ($435). It's unclear at this time whether the phone will become

Real-Time Strategy Classic 'StarCraft' Becomes a Free Download for Mac

Blizzard Entertainment today made wildly popular real-time strategy game StarCraft a free download for Mac and PC, nearly two decades after its original release. The RTS hit was universally acclaimed when it launched in 1998, and went on to become an e-sport phenomenon in South Korea, where big-prize tournaments and TV channels drew legions of fans to the game. The free download is the game's first in eight years and includes the Brood War expansion pack. The patch 1.18 download also sports a handful of new features, including windowed mode, a better online game search engine, and improved response times during multiplayer battles. Blizzard's decision to make the title freely available comes ahead of this summer's Remastered edition of StarCraft, which promises enhanced 4K graphics, better audio, high-quality cinematics, and a redesigned matchmaking system. Making vintage StarCraft free also offers a unique opportunity for getting in some practice before the new version is released: Blizzard says owners of the original game and the remastered edition will be able to play each other online. Nostalgic gamers can find the free download of the original StarCraft here.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Accepts 2017 Free Expression Award in Washington, D.C.

Apple CEO Tim Cook attended the Newseum's Free Expression Awards in Washington, D.C., last night to accept the institution's 2017 Free Expression Award. Cook was named in February as the recipient of the award in the Free Speech category, which recognized the Apple CEO for having a "profound impact" on communication and for using his position to "take a public stand" on issues like racial equality, privacy, the environment, LGBT rights, and more. According to AppleInsider, Cook used his acceptance speech to highlight the challenges involved in ensuring First Amendment rights remain a fundamental cornerstone in an increasingly technology-driven world. Image via Religious Freedom Center "We know that these freedoms require protection," Cook said of First Amendment rights. "Not just the forms of speech that entertain us, but the ones that challenge us. The ones that unnerve and even displease us. They're the ones that need protection the most. It's no accident that these freedoms are enshrined and protected in the First Amendment. They are the foundation to so many of our rights." "This is a responsibility that Apple takes very seriously," Cook said. "First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves. Because companies can, and should have values."Other winners on the night included U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who received an Arts and Entertainment Award shared with Hatch Beauty chairman Christie

Spotify Half-Price Student Subscription Plan Rolls Out to 31 More Countries

Spotify today expanded its half-price student subscription plan to 31 more countries around the world. The music streaming service has offered the discounted premium subscriptions to students based in the U.S., the U.K., and Germany for some time, but starting today Spotify is adding several more countries to the list of eligible nations. The list now includes Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey. The student plan includes all premium features, such as ad-free listening, improved audio quality options, and downloadable tracks for offline listening. To qualify, students must attend an accredited institution. The discounted plan can be used for the entirety of the subscriber's student life. In the U.S., users get at least a one-year discount, that can be renewed up to three times for a total of four years, but regional variations may apply. Students can head over to Spotify.com/student to sign up to the offer.

May Cover of Food Magazine 'Bon Appétit' Shot on an iPhone 7

Food magazine Bon Appétit has used an iPhone to shoot the cover photography for its latest travel issue. The Condé Nast-owned publication follows in the footsteps of magazines like Billboard and Condé Nast Traveler, both of which have recently run covers shot on iPhones. Bon Appètit has used iPhone-shot photos in the past – including in last year's Culture issue – but this is the first time photography shot using Apple's smartphone camera has graced the cover. The image, taken by Peden + Munk on an iPhone 7 Plus, shows a woman holding a strawberry Paleta, on location in the Tlacoula Market of Oaxaca, Mexico. Peden told TechCrunch that the iPhone's portability and the "comfortability [of] not having some humungous lens in your face" allowed them to work with a tiny crew, so it felt like a "throwback to the early days" of their career. "It didn't feel like a big magazine cover shoot where there were a bunch of assistants and light reflectors," Peden said. "It felt very comfortable and natural."The photographers also said the VSCO app allowed them to edit photos while at their favorite bar or brunch spot, rather than having to drag out their laptop. Creative director Alex Grossman said it made sense to lead with an iPhone picture for the May travel issue, given the close connection between photography and travel. The iPhone 7 "works really well picking up people and places", said Grossman, and while it's not completely comparable to "a $25,000 DSLR", when shot in the right conditions, "99.9 percent of people out there" are unlikely to notice the difference.