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Tom Briant

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for 12/15/2016

WatchOS Update Pulled After Reports Of Apple Watch Problems

Apple has suspended its latest software update to Apple Watch after users complained that it made the smartwatches useless.

Earlier this week, Apple released watchOS version 3.1.1 as an upgrade, but it immediately set off alarm bells with users who complained that the software was faulty.

Latest watchOS update bricks some Apple Watches

Unfortunate users that installed the update—which launched on Monday and promised various bug fixes—were left with watches displaying a red exclamation mark on the screen and a link to The issue appears to mostly affect the Apple Watch Series 2, although not every user has experienced problems with the update.

Apple pulls watchOS update after reports of bricked watches

The first swimming app designed for the Apple Watch, MySwimPro, was recently named the Apple Watch App of the Year, as selected by Apple Store editors.

MySwimPro delivers customized workouts and instructional video content to swimmers, both amateur and advanced, who are trying to achieve their fitness goals.

A University of Michigan accelerator company secured a number one spot as a part of Apple's recent announcement celebrating the Best of 2016 for apps

MySwimPro, the top fitness app for swimmers in over 150 countries and a member of the U-M's Desai Accelerator 2016 cohort, was named the Apple Watch App of the Year.

iOS 10.2 includes new emoji, the TV app, and a big pile of other tweaks

After seven betas and a couple of months of testing, Apple has released the final version of iOS 10.2 to all devices that run iOS 10. This is the second major update released for iOS 10 since it came out in September and, like iOS 10.1 before it, this release adds a couple of new features and provides an extensive list of fixes for existing ones.

iOS 10.2 Update: The 5 Best Features For Your iPhone

New TV app
New Emoji
Cable TV Single Sign-On
Preserve Camera Settings

Here's what every symbol on top of your iPhone means

11 iPhone apps I can't live without

Apple’s $30 earbuds are way better than the new $160 AirPods

Aside from being wireless, there’s not much that justifies AirPods’ high price. Here are 5 reasons you should buy EarPods, Apple’s wired in-ear headphones, instead of AirPods.

Apple's MacBook options are a frustrating mess

Shopping for a MacBook used to be really simple. Want the thin one? Get an Air. Doing a lot of work? Get the Pro.

But Apple has made things tricky since the good ol' days.
Comparison shopping between the three latest models of MacBook (MacBook Air, MacBook and MacBook Pro) is complicated.
It was much simpler in years past.

2016 Apple MacBook Comparison Guide

Last week, Apple came under fire from a mob of outraged customers crying outtheir brand new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro laptops don’t seem to last nearly as long as the 10 hours the company promises on its website.

In an effort to curb criticism, the Big A has made an executive decision to ‘fix’ the issue by axing the ‘time remaining’ estimate that shows up in the status bar once you click the battery icon.

New MacBook Pro Users Report Improved Battery Life on macOS 10.12.2

Apple released macOS 10.12.2 yesterday with stability improvements and fixes for several key bugs, including major graphics issues plaguing some late 2016 model MacBook Pro users. 

What the changelog did not mention is that Apple also removed the "time remaining" battery life indicator following an increasing number of battery life complaints, likewise among new MacBook Pro users. 

What it may have also failed to mention is that macOS 10.12.2 appears to have led to battery life improvements for some users. A growing number of MacRumors forum members using the new MacBook Pro claim to be experiencing longer battery life after updating to macOS 10.12.2, despite experiencing less-than-desirable battery life while running macOS 10.2.1 just days earlier.

How to Fix (Hopefully) the MacBook Pro Battery Life Problem

Consumer Reports has been testing all three MacBook Pro models in our labs, and we noticed a problem, too. We haven't yet identified the root cause, but in our experiments, a few easy-to-do adjustments have really helped.

Antoinette Asedillo dug around online, did some experiments, and cobbled together some tactics for boosting battery life. By using a combination of these adjustments, she was able to get all three versions of the MacBook Pro to show more consistent results. And battery life got to the same ballpark figures that previous MacBooks achieved.

To be safe, back up your computer before giving any of her adjustments, Asedillo suggests

Apple employees break their vow of secrecy to describe the best — and worst — things about working for Apple

Apple has a strict code of secrecy that it expects all employees to live by. Anyone who breaks it is fired. Unsurprisingly, employees rarely speak publicly about what it is like to work there. 

Luckily, there are several Quora threads written by former and current employees devoted to answering questions about life inside Apple.

HyperDrive adapter saves you from MacBook Pro dongle hell

Kickstarter project solves 2016 MacBook Pro USB-C issue in one elegant package

A Silicon Valley startup named “Branch" created a new hub called the cPro.  It is undoubtedly one of the most important accessories for the new MacBook Pro. The cPro is a form fitted, all aluminum hub for the new MacBook Pro, that was designed from the ground up to contour and hug the notebook. The cPro gives the notebook access to an HDMI port, 3 super-speed USB 3.0 ports, SD & Micro SD card slots, and a USB-C charging port. Branch has even returned that orange/green charging light that was so beloved in the charger cable of the previous generation MacBook Pro.

Apple Just Stopped iPhones Literally Speaking Your Passwords Out Loud

The vulnerability, found by Turkish patent attorney Davut Hari, has been patched in iOS 10.2.

If you own an iPhone, you should download Apple's new troubleshooting app right now

Apple Support, Apple's latest app, collects help support documents, troubleshooting tips, and direct access to repair shops like Apple Stores in one place.

You can download it from the US App Store right now.

Most of the information available on the app can also be found online, but Apple has done a great job of collecting it in one place.

How to Change Which Apps Track Your Location on iPhone

11 paid iPhone apps on sale for free today

Apple's 2016 report card: Grading all the new hardware Apple released this year

Camera+ is one of the best photo apps for iOS and now it’s even better because it supports the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual camera as well as support for taking and editing RAW photos.

The update, which is free for existing users ($2.99 for new users), is one of the most significant the app has seen in quite some time.

A big feature addition is RAW support. The RAW format is preferred by professional photographers because it allows for more granular control over colors, color balance, and brightness.

The Gadget Apocalypse Is Upon Us

Remember gadgets?  They were little electronic things that did stuff for you.

For 30 or 40 years, through recessions and war, through stability and revolutions, they were always there, one gadget after another, from transistor radios to TRS-80s to Walkmen and Gameboys, then iPods and Flips, GoPros and Fitbits. We were sure gadgets would always be with us, because they had always been with us, and it was good.

But no. Winter is coming for gadgets. Or maybe winter has already come for gadgets.

What happened to gadgets?

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Thing That Does Everything emerged from Cupertino, Calif. That was almost 10 years ago now. You know what I’m talking about: the iPhone. We knew the Thing was going to be big, but we didn’t know it would be this big. When the Thing threatened to eat up all the gadgets, nobody thought it would really happen.

5 Geeky Ways to Know Why iPhone is Better Than Google Pixel

Google Drive update makes it a little easier to switch from iPhone to Android
New backup method lets you bring your contacts, calendars, and photos with you when you jump ship.

The story behind the story: Switching your data between platforms is one of the biggest barriers for would-be switchers, and Google and Apple have each been working to make it easier for people who want to make the jump. Apple’s Move to iOS app is a little more comprehensive, moving messages, bookmarks, and mail accounts in addition to contacts, calendars, and photos, but the new Google Drive backup method is certainly an easy way to get started with your new Android phone.

Google just made it super easy to ditch your iPhone and switch to Android

As part of Google’s ongoing effort to make the switch from iOS to Android that much more seamless, the search giant recently introduced a new Google Drive feature designed to assist users who want to transfer their content over from their iPhone to an Android smartphone.

The entire process is extremely straight forward as it simply uploads a user’s important iOS data to Google’s cloud whereupon the data is then pushed back down to a new Android device. From start to finish, the transfer process only consists of two steps.

Google warns that the backup process could take several hours, so users are advised to initiate the process with their device plugged in and Wi-Fi turned on.

Naturally, Apple has its own tool — an Android app called Move to iOS — that makes it just as easy for Android users to transfer all of their data over to an iOS device.

It looks like Adobe Flash’s days are finally numbered

As the open, slicker HTML5 standard has grown, browser makers have begun phasing Flash out of existence.

Now Google is poised to finish things off. The company has been open about its desire to de-emphasize Flash in Chrome.

Worried About the Privacy of Your Messages? Download Signal

BY the time you finish reading this column, you would be foolish not to download the messaging app Signal onto your smartphone and computer.

The free encrypted messaging service has won the acclaim of security researchers and privacy advocates, including Edward J. Snowden. All have said that Signal goes above and beyond other chat tools in keeping electronic communications private.

And now more than ever, we may need it. That’s because hacks are on the rise — look at how the activist group WikiLeaks posted a trove of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, for all to see.

Signal is one of many encrypted messaging services, but it stands out for its uncompromising security and ease of use.

There is no logical reason to skip using Signal. The app is free for Android and iOS, and for computers it is a free add-on for the Google Chrome browser. Plus, it’s easy to install and so architecturally secure that you can have the confidence to say whatever you want without fear of being spied on.

Another benefit is that Open Whisper Systems is a nonprofit that relies on donations and grants, not a business that might eventually have an incentive to share your information with third parties like advertisers.

The most mysterious technological object on the planet should have been destroyed at least three times.

First, the device made it through a violent shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea. Then, it sat submerged in salt water on a sandy cliff 200 feet below the surface of the ocean for more than two millennia. After it was hauled back to dry land in the year 1901, the object was forgotten for nearly a year. A lump of corroded bronze and shredded wood, it was left to rot in an ordinary crate in the open courtyard of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

It should have disintegrated. It almost did.

It came to be known as the Antikythera Mechanism. In the decades that followed, with ever more sophisticated technology to guide them, researchers would begin to understand how the peculiar device once worked. Today, the mechanism is often described as the world’s oldest computer—more precisely, it seemed to be an analog machine for modeling and predicting astronomical and calendrical patterns.

Yet the mystery of the mechanism is only partly solved.

The oldest known analog computer is the device found at Antikythera.

“Before the Antikythera Mechanism, not one single gearwheel had ever been found from antiquity, nor indeed any example of an accurate pointer or scale,” Jo Marchant wrote in her book. “Apart from the Antikythera Mechanism, they still haven’t.”

The author also writes about how challenging searching for information about the Antikythera device is, and how future search engine algorithms might make it easier.

The "end of work" is our opportunity to be human

While some academics predict the “end of work,” tech mogul Marc Andreessen has called the idea of a jobless future a “Luddite fallacy” and MIT economist David Autor thinks this is just another case of “automation anxiety.” Autor argues that computers cannot replace humans for tasks that require “flexibility, judgment, and common sense.” He also cites historical evidence that computers and humans actually prove to be complements in the workforce, not substitutes.

I agree with Andreessen and Autor. But I think this goes deeper than tech and labor economics. Even if advancements in AI and machine learning make computers capable of flexibility and common sense, human work won’t go away.

“The economic problem, the struggle for subsistence,” Keynes writes, “always has been hitherto the primary, most pressing problem of the human race -- not only of the human race, but of the whole of the biological kingdom from the beginnings of life in its most primitive forms … Thus we have been expressly evolved by nature -- with all our impulses and deepest instincts -- for the purpose of solving the economic problem. If the economic problem is solved, mankind will be deprived of its traditional purpose.”

Stanford physicist Savas Dimopoulos muses aloud, “Why do humans do science? Why do they do art? The things that are least important for our survival are the very things that make us human.”

A robot economy is our opportunity to be human.

So for the first time in history, the majority of mankind will have the luxury of asking themselves: what should I do? And when no longer buttressed by the universal survival paradigm, that moral question regresses to an existential one: who am I?

The end of work is our opportunity to be human -- not just to survive, but to live.

5 ways you are screwing up your iPhone battery

A good article on the dangers of “cloud computing”.

Biggest Tech Failures and Successes of 2016

Three Technologies That Needed Fixing

Faulty lithium-ion battery cells were blamed for two high-profile product safety hazards this year: exploding hoverboards and Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones.

During the presidential campaign, Facebook, Twitter and Google faced mounting criticism for letting fake news propagate on their platforms, potentially influencing Americans to cast their votes based on misinformation. When the web resembles the Wild, Wild West, the consequences can be dire.

All virtual assistants, including Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, continued to be subpar this year.

Four Technologies That Were Fixed

Great improvement over the last year: Wi-Fi.

Virtual reality still has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream. But it has made significant strides.

Though none of the encrypted messaging services are perfect, this year marked significant progress toward offering tools that strengthened consumer privacy.

Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live have made mobile live video streams simple to shoot and extremely popular.

Self-driving cars are prone to hacks — and automakers are barely talking about it

Today's self-driving cars rely on spinning sensors called lidar that can cost more than $10,000 each. But it took Jonathan Petit just $43 and a laser pointer to confuse and defeat them.

Carmakers have to ensure that clever hackers can't cause the cars to go haywire.

How Many Times Has Your Personal Information Been Exposed to Hackers?

Read this article to learn which parts of your identity may have been stolen in some of the major hacking attacks in the last three years and what you can do about it. Not all attacks are included here, and many attacks go undetected, so think of your results as a minimum level of exposure.

Yahoo Suffers History's Biggest Known Data Breach

A hacker stole information from more than one billion Yahoo email accounts in August 2013, the company announced Wednesday, December 14, 2016.

Earlier this year, Yahoo announced that information from 500 million user accounts was stolen.

Here's Why Feds Are Winning The Fight To Grab iPhone Passcodes And Fingerprints

There's mounting evidence showing the government is winning in its fight to force citizens to hand over smartphone passcodes and fingerprints.
Going against previous rulings, last week a Florida court of appeals decided a suspect could be compelled to hand over their iPhone passcode. And the decision comes at a time when Californian police are pushing on in earnest to force fingerprints onto cellphones to crack them open, according to numerous court documents uncovered by FORBES.

A court in Florida has said a suspected voyeur can be made to reveal his iPhone passcode to investigators.

Previously, a judge said the defendant could not be made to reveal the code, citing constitutional protections.
That decision has now been reversed by the Florida Court of Appeal's Second District.

The trial court had decided that Mr Stahl could be protected by the Fifth Amendment, which is designed to prevent self-incrimination.
However, Judge Anthony Black's formal opinion to the court quashed the decision.

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