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Macworld’s April Digital Edition: The State of HomeKit

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 19:12

Every day, Macworld brings you the essential daily news and other info about all things Apple. But staying on top of that torrent of information can be a constant challenge. One solution: the Macworld Digital Edition.

In the April issue

We look at the state of the Apple HomeKit market and imagine future iOS devices. Plus, read about our favorite gear and apps for travel photography.

Also in this month’s issue:

Mac User: Apple’s new HQ, Apple Park, will open in April

iOS Central: 5 things the iPad Pro needs instead of skinnier bezels

• Working Mac: Connecting an Apple LED Cinema Display to a USB-C MacBook or MacBook Pro?

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The Week in iOS Apps: Learn to play a musical instrument with Chordana Play

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 17:05
Name that tune!

Image by Rob Schultz/Macworld

This week’s roundup includes two apps that help you learn to play keyboard and guitar. Got a song in your heart? Read on!

Chordana Play

Image by Chordana

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Apple: Macs and iPhones are safe from newly revealed CIA exploits

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 16:06

The Mac and iPhone exploits described in new documents attributed to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency were patched years ago, according to Apple.

WikiLeaks released a new set of files Thursday that supposedly came from the CIA. They contain details about the agency’s alleged malware and attack capabilities against iPhones and Mac computers.

The documents, dated 2012 and earlier, describe several “implants” that the CIA can install in the low-level extensible firmware interface (EFI) of Mac laptop and desktop computers. These EFI rootkits allow the agency's macOS spying malware to persist even after the OS is reinstalled.

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To punish Symantec, Google may distrust a third of the web's SSL certificates

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 14:23

Google is considering a harsh punishment for repeated incidents in which Symantec or its certificate resellers improperly issued SSL certificates. A proposed plan is to force the company to replace all of its customers’ certificates and to stop recognizing the extended validation (EV) status of those that have it.

According to a Netcraft survey from 2015, Symantec is responsible for about one in every three SSL certificates used on the web, making it the largest commercial certificate issuer in the world. As a result of acquisitions over the years the company now controls the root certificates of several formerly standalone certificate authorities including VeriSign, GeoTrust, Thawte and RapidSSL.

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Apple’s Product(RED) iPhone and new 9.7-inch iPad now available for purchase

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 11:46

If Apple’s shiny new red iPhone 7 caught your eye on Tuesday when it was first announced, grab your wallet—it’s now officially on sale, as of 8:01 a.m. Pacific/11:01 a.m Eastern on Friday. Also available now is the new 9.7-inch iPad, which replaces the iPad Air 2. 

The Product(RED) iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are exactly like the existing iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, just in a new color—an aluminum red backing with a white front bezel—and Apple donates a portion of each Product(RED) device sale to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Pick between the 128GB iPhone 7 model for $749 and the 256GB model for $849; the iPhone 7 Plus will set you back $869 or $969, respectively. If you’re enrolled in the iPhone Upgrade Program, the cost of an unlocked red iPhone with AppleCare+ starts at $37 per month. It’s available in Apple stores now, and you can reserve one online for in-store pickup for peace of mind. 

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MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL turns Pong into a marvelous, mystical battler

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 11:00

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Yes, MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL is the real name of an iOS game, and it’s a title that seems sure to either pique your curiosity or leave you confused and scratching your head. Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume it’s the former. What does the name mean? Well, it’s apparently Sumerian for Gemini, the twin stars of the zodiac, which correspond with the two paddles you control in the game.

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Leaked iCloud credentials obtained from third parties, Apple says

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 07:39

A group of hackers threatening to wipe data from Apple devices attached to millions of iCloud accounts didn’t obtain whatever log-in credentials they have through a breach of the company’s services, Apple said.

“There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID,” an Apple representative said in an emailed statement. “The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.”

A group calling itself the Turkish Crime Family claims to have login credentials for more than 750 million icloud.com, me.com and mac.com email addresses, and the group says more than 250 million of those credentials provide access to iCloud accounts that don’t have two-factor authentication turned on.

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Twitter mulls an enhanced TweetDeck for power users as subscription rumors swirl

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 07:38

Twitter has started surveying users to check their interest in a new enhanced version of its TweetDeck product, raising the possibility that the company is considering a paid version of its service.

The move by Twitter comes in the wake of its almost flat revenue growth and a lackluster increase in the number of its users in the fourth quarter in comparison to the company’s social networking peers like Facebook.

A subscription-based version of its service would be in line with the strategies of some other Internet services like Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, which offer additional features to paid users.

Twitter said in an emailed statement that it is conducting a survey “to assess the interest in a new, more enhanced version” of TweetDeck, the application for power users of Twitter that lets people monitor multiple timelines in one interface, manage multiple accounts and schedule tweets for posting later.

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Instagram adds two-factor authentication, censors photos that are deemed offensive or disturbing

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 17:10

When in doubt, blur it out. That’s how Instagram is handling any controversial photos that surface on its platform.

On Thursday, Instagram announced a new policy to blur out “sensitive” content that users have flagged as either offensive or disturbing. The blurred photos and videos do not explicitly violate Instagram’s content guidelines, so they don’t warrant a removal by Instagram standards. However, some users may still find them too sensitive to view. 

“While these posts don’t violate our guidelines, someone in the community has reported them and our review team has confirmed they are sensitive,” the Instagram team wrote in a blog post announcing the policy. “This change means you are less likely to have surprising or unwanted experiences in the app.”

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Facebook makes Messenger more like iMessage with emoji reactions

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 15:10

Facebook has incorporated new features into its Messenger app, and they may seem familiar to iMessage users.

Facebook Messenger now lets users add emoji reactions to individual messages, just how Facebook users can “react” to posts in their News Feeds. Facebook is also giving users the ability to include @mentions in their messages. Both of these new features will begin rolling out on Thursday and will be available globally in the coming days, according to Facebook.

You can add an emoji reaction to any message, whether it’s a text comment, a photo, or GIF. These emoji reactions include five different emotions—from love to wow to angry—as depicted by smiley faces, plus Facebook’s signature thumbs up to signify a “Like.” For the first time, Facebook is also giving users the option to “dislike” something with a thumbs down emoji. 

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Senate votes to kill FCC's broadband privacy rules

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 14:44

The U.S. Senate has voted to kill broadband provider privacy regulations prohibiting them from selling customers' web-browsing histories and other data without their permission.

The Senate's 50-48 vote Thursday on a resolution of disapproval would roll back Federal Communications Commission rules requiring broadband providers to receive opt-in customer permission to share sensitive personal information, including web-browsing history, geolocation, and financial details with third parties. The FCC approved the regulations just five months ago.

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Updates to Google's Duo, Allo, and Photos apps bring small but important features

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 14:27

Google came packed with a bunch of announcements at its Google for Brazil event, but you don’t need to live in Rio de Janeiro to benefit from them. In addition to the new location sharing in Maps, Google is also rolling out updates to its Duo, Allo, and Photos apps, bringing some long-awaited features.

First up is Duo. While the focus of the app had been on video chatting, Google will now let you make audio calls too. According to Google, “Duo audio calls work well on all connection speeds and won’t eat up your data.”

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Newly leaked documents show low-level CIA Mac and iPhone hacks

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 14:24

The CIA has had tools to infect Macs by connecting malicious Thunderbolt ethernet adapters to them since 2012, according to new documents purported to be from the agency and published by WikiLeaks.

One of the documents, dated Nov. 29, 2012, is a manual from the CIA’s Information Operations Center on the use of a technology codenamed Sonic Screwdriver. It is described as “a mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting.”

Sonic Screwdriver allows the CIA to modify the firmware of an Apple Thunderbolt-to-ethernet adapter so that it forces a MacBook to boot from an USB stick or DVD disc even when its boot options are password protected.

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Newegg's dropped $20 off the third-generation Nest thermostat

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 14:19

Newegg has a deal that offers a smarter way to turn down the heat as we move from winter to spring. The online retailer is selling the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat for $230. That’s $20 off the typical price you’ll find elsewhere, and though it’s not a huge price cut, we haven’t seen the Nest Thermostat on sale since Target’s 15 percent off coupon deal from last month and the holiday season prices before that.

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The Week in iOS Cases and Accessories: These stabilizers produce better videos

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 10:00
No more shaky video

Image by Rob Schultz/Macworld

Two new stabilizers are in this week’s roundup—one for GoPro cameras, another for your iPhone. Read on!

GoPro

Image by GoPro

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Facebook starts warning U.S. users when they're sharing fake news

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 09:54

In a few months, you may no longer have to write “FAKE” below your friends’ Facebook posts. Fake news warning alerts appear to be rolling out to Facebook users in the United States after first appearing in Germany in January.

The new alerts, flagged with help from independent fact-checkers, are designed to prevent users from sharing fake news stories unwittingly, but they will not prevent people from sharing the story if they still choose.

When you try to share a story that has been flagged as phony, Facebook will insert an alert at the bottom of the post creation window (pictured at top). The alert will include a red triangle with an exclamation point, and a message such as “Disputed by Snopes.com and Associated Press.”

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Apple acquires Workflow automation app, offers it free

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 08:09

Apple has acquired the Workflow automation app, which allows iOS users to trigger a sequence of tasks across apps with a single tap.

A spokesman for Apple confirmed on Wednesday the company’s acquisition of DeskConnect, the developer of the app, and the Workflow app, but did not provide further details.

Workflow, developed for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, allows users to drag and drop combinations of actions to create workflows that interact with the apps and content on the device. It won an Apple design award in 2015 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Some of the examples of tasks for which Workflow can be used are making animated GIFs, adding a home screen icon to call a loved one and tweeting a song the user has been listening to, according to a description of the app.

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It wasn't the money: Wozniak on robots, design, and Apple's origins

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 07:03

More than 40 years after founding Apple Computer, Steve Wozniak has a lot to say about the early days of the world’s richest company—and about technology, learning, and being a born engineer.

On stage at the IEEE TechIgnite conference in Burlingame, California, on Wednesday, he gave a glimpse into how a tech legend thinks.

On open source

In the early 1970s, Wozniak read about phone phreaking, in which “phreakers” made free phone calls by using electronics to mimic the tones used for dialing each number. To learn how to do it, he went to the only place he knew that had books and magazines about computers: The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He went on a Sunday and walked right in. “The smartest people in the world don’t lock doors,” Wozniak said.

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Podcast 551: Knocking the Air out of the iPad lineup

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 17:37

Yay, new hardware! Apple skipped the event this time around, and unveiled a new iPad to replace the iPad Air 2, a red iPhone 7, more storage for the iPad mini 4 and iPhone SE, new Apple Watch bands, and a new iOS app that combines elements of Vine and Snapchat. Whew!

We'll have a review of the iPad when it ships, but don't worry that this is all there is. Apple still has the iPad Pro to refresh, and of course Tim Cook promised us pro Macs this year. The vigil continues...

Show notes

Apple and Amazon take fight from smart home to hotel room

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 15:30

Amazon’s Alexa has successfully challenged Apple on your home turf—literally. The Echo and other various Alexa-equipped devices are rapidly becoming the go-to when you need assistance at home, though Apple’s HomeKit has the edge when it comes to automation and security standards. But the real battle comes down to Alexa vs. Siri—which voice-activated assistant is more useful? Now hotel chains are trying to decide for themselves.

The high-end Wynn Las Vegas resort chose Alexa last December, adding Amazon Echo devices in its suites. Now Marriott International is trying to decide between Amazon and Apple, according to a Bloomberg report. The JW Marriott in San Antonio, Texas has been testing Amazon Alexa-integrated devices since October as an operator of sorts—the conduit to room service and housekeeping. Alexa can also control the lighting in a handful of the Marriott’s rooms, though that isn’t her primary role.

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