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ios16

Apple Releases iOS 16 Update, Twitter Celebrates

Apple released iOS 16 on Monday as a significant software update for iPhone users. Consumers are praising the company for implementing long-awaited requests. The new update comes with a host of new features.

New customization options for lock screens allow users to add widgets, use custom fonts and colors and apply themed filters. Users can assign lock screens to different “focus modes” or switch lock screens throughout the day by holding and swiping.

The lock screen can also now display a full-screen music player. Screens will show an album’s cover art set against a backdrop of hues pulled from the cover art’s palette.

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Apple released new collections of premade lock screens with the update. The astronomy collection allows users to see renditions of the “earth, moon or solar system” updated with live conditions.

Users have taken to Twitter to express their joy over the new music lock screen, media player, image depth filters and several other features.

“The iOS16 update lets you long press a picture and it automatically removes the background and you can drag the photo and post it on any app you want. This is so awesome.”

Apple’s iMessage app also got an overhaul. Users can now “unsend” iMessages for up to two minutes. The sender can edit a message for up to 15 minutes. While the recipient of a message will see that a message has been unsent, they will not be able to read it.

The company has also implemented a new privacy feature called “Safety Check” alongside other security features. This reset function stops sharing a user’s location, resets system privacy permissions for all apps and signs the user out of iCloud on all devices. Apple announced it created the feature to help people in domestic violence situations.

“This lets people in abusive situations quickly revoke abusers’ access to their data and location.”

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Other new features include visible battery percentages, passcode-locked hidden albums and multi-stop routing in Apple maps.

However, consumers seem unhappy with one feature—notifications are now at the bottom of the lock screen. One Twitter user wrote, “whoever was in charge of changing the notifications in iOS 16 to show at the bottom, I want you to know you are stupid and I hate you.”

The majority of people are excited about such a major update. In order to install iOS 16, users must have an iPhone 8 or later.

AI

Man Wins Art Fair With AI Generated Art

A video game designer in Pueblo, Colorado, won an art fair with artwork generated by artificial intelligence software. Jason M. Allen entered his work titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” into a state fair and received first place, winning a prize of $300. He had spent 80 hours tinkering with an AI art generator named Midjourney to create his final piece.

The two competition judges, Cal Duran and Dagny McKinley told The Pueblo Chieftain that while they did not know an AI created the work, they still would have awarded Allen the prize. In Duran’s mind, the chief purpose of any artwork is to tell a story.

“Even as this controversy is coming out, it’s still invoking that. It’s still causing an uproar. That in itself is kind of remarkable.”

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In order to generate art using an AI like Midjourney, a user must input keywords that the AI uses to make associations between prompts and images on the internet. It recognizes shapes, colors, and patterns within existing art and photos. The resulting piece of art is an amalgamation of those elements.

The recent development of AI-generated art engines such as DALL-E has started a debate on the ethics of art and the implications of automating creativity. While automation is becoming increasingly more common in other sectors of society, people previously considered the automation of art, music and writing beyond technological capability.

Even iPhone users can download AI art generators from Apple’s app store, albeit much weaker ones. Nonetheless, these apps can craft a piece of art within 15 seconds based on as little as one keyword. Even an online poetry generator titled “Verse by Verse” exists. Google programmed the software to compose poetry in the voice of historically famous poets.

Allen told The Pueblo Chieftain that Midjourney had also aided his team in creating concept art for their game designs. While inputting keywords may seem easy, Allen claims it is difficult to put in a prompt that is just right to generate the desired image.

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Judge McKinley is optimistic about the replicability of the quote-on-quote “artist” if AI art becomes commonplace. “Yes, it will likely take away some jobs from artists, but the technology exists and we can’t go backwards,” McKinley said.

“For me, nothing can replicate human work because human work is flawed and it is those flaws that bring humanity to art. How does an artist create their own style and voice? That is what makes art interesting.”

Understandably, many artists are unhappy with the potential automation of the creative process.

RJ Palmer, a concept artist, wrote on Twitter, “what makes this AI different is that it’s explicitly trained on current working artists.” Artists are not paid for their work but instead used to generate digital art pulled from their original ideas. Palmer writes that it is “actively anti-artist.”

asus

Asus Reveals New Foldable Tablet/Laptop Hybrid

Roughly seven months ago, Asus announced that they would be creating the first foldable 17 inch tablet that can also become a laptop. 

The new Zenbook 17 Fold OLED finally has a rough release date and should be expected sometime toward the end of the year, it has a shelf price of $3,999.

The product was always expected to be expensive, which the company fully aware of. However, they knew that those who love new technology are probably going to be the ones who go and buy the product right off the shelves.

The thing that differentiates this product from others is the 17-inch OLED touchscreen that contains a 3.5k resolution and a 4:3 aspect ratio. The tablet can fold evenly in the middle due to the 180-degree hinge. 

The computer also contains a kickstand on the display portion of the tablet which can be used in a variety of different ways including opening it like a book, propping it up for binge watching, attaching a keyboard on the bottom or separating the keyboard from the tablet to use as a desktop/monitor hybrid.

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“When fully open, this is a huge tablet with a 17.3 inch display – that’s bigger than most laptops. The screen is a 2.5K panel with touch support and (you guessed it) OLED, with only a subtle crease hinting at its foldable functionality,” according to Tech Advisor.

Asus has equipped the device with a 75Wh battery which will allow users up to 9-10 hours of usage. Included is a 65W charger that can be used with any USB-C ports so buyers will have to buy an adapter or hub as well. 

When the product is released, there also won’t be a customizable option, there will only be one version of the product.

“It’s the most versatile laptop I’ve ever used, and it’s a real head-turner in public,” said Alex Wawro in a product review for Tom’s Guide.

Folding this 17.3-inch OLED touchscreen up like a book and tossing it in your bag feels like a magic trick the first dozen times you do it. After that, you just feel like you’re living in the future a bit earlier than most.”

However, with all the cool gadgets and tricks that come with the new foldable tablet, there are also some weaknesses it faces within its design. 

With the tablet measuring at 14.9 x 11.3 x 0.3 inches and 3.3 pounds, it makes the product hard to hold in your hands for an extended period of time. After a while, it might be easier to prop it up on a pillow to use it. 

When the new product finally hits shelves during Q4, techie fans will be able to finally get their hands on one of the most powerful foldable computer/tablets on the market.

virtualrealty

The Newest VR Headset To Be Released In October From Meta

On Thursday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the latest addition to his line of virtual reality headsets will be making their debut in October.

The new product from Meta is expected to be fully revealed at the Meta’s annual Connect event which usually takes place sometime within the month of October.

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The codenamed “Project Cambria” is set to contain features that will help users experience the feeling of social presence and have them feel more connected with other users.

Some of the features that will be included with the new VR headset will be more eye- and facial- tracking features. These new features will allow digital avatars to smile and frown within the virtual reality. 

“For me, this stuff is all about, like, helping people connect… I just started thinking about… what would be the ultimate expression of, basically, people using technology to feel present with each other, right? It’s not phones, it’s not computers.”

The new VR headset is supposed to contain a high-resolution color screen, internal sensor for the eye tracking and sophisticated augmented reality. 

The name of the VR headset has yet to be revealed but the cost of the headset is projected to cost around $800. This is a significant price jump up from the popular Quest 2 headset which costed $399 to $499 depending on the model. 

“In the previous version eye contact was all just AI simulated, we didn’t actually know when you were making eye contact because we weren’t tracking the eyes. Now for this version, and hopefully a lot of the different ones we build going forward, you’ll be able to have realistic facial expressions and more transmitted directly to your avatar,” said Zuckerberg. 

In a recent interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Rogan was allowed to be one of the first people who got to try out the new VR headset. He stated that he was impressed with all the features and how well his avatar was able to match his facial expression and eyes. 

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“It’s getting to the point where it’s mimicking human patterns in kind of a creepy way,” said Rogan. 

Over the last few years, Meta has been putting a lot of their effort and money into VR and augmented reality to keep expanding and evolving the world of computers and how people interact with them. 

According to Digital Trends, VR players usually identify themselves and have a strong connection to their alternates in virtual reality where real connections can be formed. 

With the increase of the technology, it could become a huge stepping stone in the world of virtual reality.

google

More Than 600 Google Employees Demand Abortion Care Protections

More than 650 Google workers have signed a petition lobbying for the company to create policies that would protect and provide support for employees and consumers seeking abortion care.

roomba

Amazon Acquires Roomba Maker iRobot For $1.7 Billion

On Friday, commerce titan Amazon announced it acquired iRobot, the maker of the Roomba vacuum, for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction that will equal a total of $1.7 billion.

“We know that saving time matters, and chores take precious time that can be better spent doing something that customers love,” Amazon Devices Senior Vice President Dave Limp said in a statement.

“Over many years, the iRobot team has proven its ability to reinvent how people clean with products that are incredibly practical and inventive – from cleaning when and where customers want while avoiding common obstacles in the home, to automatically emptying the collection bin.”

iRobot CEO and chairman Colin Angle, who will hold his position upon completion of the acquisition, explained he couldn’t think of a better way for the company to continue its work than Amazon, which promotes “building thoughtful innovations that empower people to do more at home.”

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iRobot is the latest — and fourth-heftiest price-wise — in a long line of big-money Amazon acquisitions. In 2017, it purchased grocer Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, while it acquired film studio MGM for $8.5 billion last year. Last month, the company announced a $3.9 billion deal for One Medical.

The deal will still need approval from regulators and iRobot shareholders in order to go through. Following the news, iRobot’s midday trading rose 19%, while Amazon was down 1.4%.

The circular, self-guiding Roomba became a household name after its debut in the early 2000s, selling more than 40 million units. Thanks to that level of success, iRobot continued to work the market by introducing its robot mop, in addition to other products like purifiers.

The company has planned to expand to lawn work by debuting its robot lawnmower — known as the Terra — though plans for it were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately for Roomba and its maker, sales prior to the Amazon deal had been significantly waning due to a variety of issues. Its third-quarter revenue saw a 30% drop to $255.4 million, with a net loss that jumped from 2.8 million a year ago to $43.4 million.

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Meanwhile, the company said it would be cutting 10% — 140 employees — from its workforce in order to combat rising costs.

For Amazon, Roomba adds to their impressive arsenal of smart home appliances that includes voice assistant Alexa and Ring security cameras. Perhaps the best companion for Roomba will be the $1000 Astro home monitoring robot, which Amazon brought into the fold last year.

The Roomba will likely be undergoing major changes in order to better connect with its new electronic relatives and the general smart household infrastructure Amazon has strived to build.

“It is easy to see how Amazon will integrate products like Roomba into the Alexa and Prime ecosystems, so that people have one central point of monitoring and control for many tasks and activities,” GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders told CNN.

Still, the deal isn’t free of concerns. With Amazon’s ever-evolving home device collection comes questions on data collection and privacy, especially since so many of their products are used by the daily consumer.  Additionally, the company’s hold over not just the smart home market, but several major commerce industries, has also faced frequent criticism from anti-monopoly advocates.

phone

Anti-Vax Dating Site Could Expose Data From Over 3,500 Users Due To Bug 

“Unjected” is a dating site specifically made for individuals who are not vaccinated against Covid-19. According to reports from the Daily Dot, the site failed to take basic precautions when it came to keeping users’ data secure, which left sensitive personal information exposed and vulnerable to potentially anyone. 

The site’s dashboard was set up to be fully accessible to the websites administrator, however, the way it was configured allowed anyone to log into the back end of  the site if they knew how to look for it. 

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Through the dashboard, administrators can view user information for everyone on the site, including names, birthdays, email addresses, and home addresses. 

A security researcher known as GeopJr is credited for confirming the site’s vulnerability, explaining that “the site had been published live to the web with ‘debug mode’ switched on – a special set of features for software developers to use while working on the application, which should never be enabled by default in an application that has been deployed for the public.” 

The researcher known as GeopJr found that they were able to make almost any change to the site after easily being able to log into the dashboard. They could add or remove pages, offer free subscriptions for paid-tier services, or even delete the entire database of posts and their backups. 

The site is currently believed to have about 3,500 users, all of whose data was accessible through the administrator features. 

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Unjected seemingly has big ambitions to expand the site and build connections among those who are unvaccinated. Besides the dating aspect of the site, users can explore a “fertility” section where others can offer their semen, eggs, or breastmilk for donation. 

In another section of the site, users can sign up for a “blood bank” by listing their location and blood type. Both the blood and fertility =aspects of the site are advertised as helping individuals find “mRNA-free” donors; referring to the mRNA molecules found in the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. 

The Unjected website is the main way that users can use the application, as the phone app was banned from the Apple App Store in August 2021 for violating Apple’s Covid-19 content policies regarding the spread of misinformation. 

The app is still listed on the Google Play store for Android users, where it has more than 10,000 downloads and average review of 2.5 stars. 

mobile

GLAAD Report Shows Social Media Giants Aren’t Doing Enough To Protect LGBTQ Users

When it comes to protecting groups that are vulnerable to slurs and harassment, a new report shows major social media platforms are falling short.

According to advocate group GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Index (SMSI), which assesses and provides recommendations for the five major platforms (TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter), all platforms scored below 50% out of a possible 100%.

The SMSI grades platforms on 12 LGBTQ-specific factors, which include gender pronouns on user profiles, third-party advertisers, content moderator training, actions to restrict harmful content, and stopping the removal of or demonetizing legitimate LGBTQ content.

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Coming in the highest was Instagram (48%), while TikTok came in last with 43%. Twitter scored the most zeros across the 12 categories with five. How LGBTQ members are received on social media plays a big role in the real world, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis explained.

“This type of rhetoric and “content” that dehumanizes LGBTQ people has real-world impact. These malicious and false narratives, relentlessly perpetuated by right-wing media and politicians, continue to negatively impact public understanding of LGBTQ people — driving hatred, and violence, against our community,” Ellis said in a letter.

Ellis noted that the strategy of using misunderstanding and hate to help support legislation by politicians, which have proposed 325 anti-LGBTQ bills since the start of 2022, is something “we’ve seen across history.”

The SMSI grades line up with how users feel. A survey by GLAAD found that 84% of LGBTQ adults agree there aren’t enough protections on social media to prevent discrimination, harassment, or disinformation, while 40% of LGBTQ adults and 49% of transgender and nonbinary people don’t feel safe on social media.

The five platforms did excel in certain areas. Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) was just one of two that disclosed information on the training of content moderators while having a clear policy on prohibiting LGBTQ-offensive advertising.

GLAAD also highlighted TikTok and Twitter’s feature of preventing users from misgendering or deadnaming nonbinary and transgender people and recommended all platforms follow that innovative lead.

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“This recommendation remains an especially high priority in our current landscape where anti-trans rhetoric and attacks are so prevalent, vicious, and harmful,” GLAAD’s senior director of social media safety, Jenni Olson, said.

However, those positives were overshadowed by a sea of negatives that ultimately resulted in failing grades. Most were docked for their policies’ limitations and enforcement, while GLAAD explained TikTok was lacking “adequate transparency” in several areas.

“The company currently does not disclose options for users to control the company’s collection of information related to their sexual orientation and gender identity,” the report said, recommending it should give users control over their own data and diversify their workforce.

“Notably, TikTok was the only company that did not disclose any information on steps it takes to diversify its workforce.”

Ellis called the companies’ performances “unacceptable.” “At this point, after their years of empty apologies and hollow promises, we must also confront the knowledge that social media platforms and companies are prioritizing profit over LGBTQ safety and lives.”

The safety of social media is particularly important when considering the vulnerable states of young LGBTQ users. According to The Trevor Project, 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered committing suicide in the last year, while 73% reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

Internet Explorer

Microsoft Officially Retires Internet Explorer Web Browser 

This past week Microsoft confirmed that its well-known web browser, Internet Explorer, would be retired after years of declining user engagement. Initially launched in 1995, Internet Explorer was the standard for web browsing on all Windows computers. 

More often than not, Windows users opted not to upgrade from the traditional IE browsing format, but security researchers are emphasizing that IE and its many security vulnerabilities, that also contributed to its shut down, were still existent. 

Microsoft will begin disabling the IE application on all Windows 10 devices, prompting users to instead download its next-generation Edge web browser, which was initially released back in 2015. The original IE icon will remain on user devices, and Edge will be incorporating a service called “IE Mode” so users can preserve access to old websites that were specifically made for Internet Explorer. 

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Microsoft says it will support “IE mode through at least 2029. Additionally, IE will still work for now on all supported versions of Windows 8.1, Windows 7 with Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates, and Windows Server.”

Industry analysis shows that more than half a percent of total global browser market shares are held by Internet Explorer. 

“I do think we’ve made progress, and we probably won’t see as many exploits against IE in the future, but we will still have remnants of Internet Explorer for a long time that scammers can take advantage of,” says Ronnie Tokazowski, an independent malware researcher and principal threat advisor at the cybersecurity firm Cofense.

“Internet Explorer as the browser will be gone, but there are still pieces that exist.”

“We haven’t forgotten that some parts of the web still rely on Internet Explorer’s specific behaviors and features,” Sean Lyndersay, the general manager of Microsoft Edge Enterprise, wrote.

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“There was a real need to start over with Edge rather than trying to salvage IE. The web has evolved and so have browsers. Incremental improvements to Internet Explorer couldn’t match the general improvements to the web at large, so we started fresh,” he stated. 

Maddie Stone, a researcher for Google’s Project Zero vulnerability hunting team, wrote that hackers are still able to exploit vulnerabilities within the IE application, which is a problem, referring to previously unknown vulnerabilities as “zero-days.” 

“Since we began tracking in-the-wild 0-days, Internet Explorer has had a pretty consistent number of 0-days each year. 2021 actually tied 2016 for the most in-the-wild Internet Explorer 0-days we’ve ever tracked, even though Internet Explorer’s market share of web browser users continues to decrease. Internet Explorer is still a ripe attack surface for initial entry into Windows machines, even if the user doesn’t use Internet Explorer as their internet browser,” she wrote.

IE will begin to be phased out of Windows devices in the coming months, but its legacy will live on for the standard it set for optimal web browsing.

Iphone

Apple’s New iOS 16 Transforms The Texting Game With Edit, Unsend Features

It’s happened to all of us. You send a text, and then immediately regret it. Perhaps it wasn’t finished, or you should have worded it differently. Maybe you didn’t mean for it to ever see the light of day. Regardless, it’s done, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Until now, that is.

Unveiling their new iOS 16, Apple revealed that it will allow iPhone users to not only edit sent messages, but also unsend them at the same time for up to 15 minutes. Select users will be able to beta test the new features this month, while the iOS will hit everyone’s phones in September.

“Today we’re going to push our platforms further than ever,” Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook said in a prerecorded message for the WWDC 2022 event.  The iOS will also allow for recovering deleted messages for up to 30 days, while marking messages and threads as “unread.”

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While the feature is certainly intriguing — and helpful to those hasty texters — it doesn’t appear that all the kinks will be sorted out upon its debut, as explained by Apple software engineering senior vice president Craig Federighi.

“It’s not implemented properly,” Federighi told The Charlotte Observer. “If the other person doesn’t have iOS 16, the message won’t unsend for them.” The feature will also only be available for those who have the iPhone 8 and up.

Additionally, users will be notified if a text has been unsent or edited. Of course, the texting wasn’t the only big change the iOS is set to bring. You’ll notice another massive development as soon as you turn on your phone.

The lock screen will undergo several major updates, including the ability to customize the screen’s color, font, and placement of elements. iPhone users will also be able to display widgets — shortcuts to apps like weather, calendar, and alarms — to the screen, similar to the Apple Watch.

Apple is also adding “live activities” to the screen, which means you can keep track of a sports game or watch your workout in real time, instead of having to see updates through a series of notifications.

Speaking of notifications, they’re seeing alterations as well. Instead of piling up at the top of the screen, they’ll now roll in from the bottom, which the tech company states will make them easier to read at a glance.

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Apple will be attempting to build on their safety features by offering a Safety Check feature for those in an abusive relationship. The feature will allow users to review and change who has access to information like passwords, location, messages, and other apps.

Speaking at WWDC, Apple privacy engineering manager Katie Skinner explained just how impactful a feature like that can be to those in such a situation. “Many people share passwords and access to their devices with a partner. However, in abusive relationships, this can threaten personal safety and make it harder for victims to get help.”

Considering technology can heighten the danger of an abusive relationship — such as if the abuser sees the victim was searching or texting for resources or help, is at a location they don’t approve of — this is a feature that should go far beyond simply giving users more privacy.

Federighi explained the iOS 16 beta is still “buggy,” though it should be ready to go for the Apple masses come fall. “Occasionally, things will take a bit longer to load than usual, but it’s normal. It’s always like this when they launch the beta.”