Mark Wilson

Teardowns show iPhone 6s is more waterproof -- and get iFixit app pulled from the App Store


For the curious-minded, iFixit is an essential resource. The hardware teardowns on the site have become legendary, revealing the innards of the latest and greatest phones and tablets better than anyone else. Two recent iFixit teardowns have had interesting results.

Following the release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, analysis of the internals suggested that the handsets would be more waterproof than previous models -- not something Apple has shouted about. But the outcome of the Apple TV and Siri Remote teardowns were rather less pleasing for the site: they resulted in the iFixit app being pulled from the App Store. By Apple.

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Microsoft buys game physics company Havok from Intel


Microsoft seems to be placing increased importance on gaming. The latest in its list of acquisitions is game physics company Havoc which has been bought from Intel for an undisclosed fee. Used in titles such as Assassins Creed, Call of Duty, and Halo, Havoc's physics and AI solutions will be an important weapon in Microsoft's gaming arsenal alongside DirectX 12.

Announcing the acquisition, Microsoft says it will "work with developers to create great gaming experiences, and continue to license Havok's development tools to partners".

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Future laptops could optimize battery life by learning your usage patterns


There's one thing that everybody looks for in a mobile device -- long battery life. There are constant promises of technological breakthroughs that are just around the corner, but rather than waiting for these to come to fruition, Microsoft researchers have decided to come up with a different solution.

Instead of using a new battery type, Microsoft Research workers have devised a system that using currently available battery technology in conjunction with smarter software. Known as Software Defined Batteries, the system uses multiple batteries, and management software is used to pick the most suitable power source depending on the task that is being performed.

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Developers can now respond to reviews in the Chrome Web Store


Reviews can be an important factor in deciding which app or extension to install. The idea of user reviews is something that has been adopted by Apple in its App Store, and is also used by Microsoft and in Google Play. The Chrome Web Store also features reviews, and a new feature has just been added that could make them more useful than ever -- the ability for developers to respond.

This is an important change as it gives developers the right of reply. When reading a review written by someone you almost certainly don't know, it can be hard to tell if their opinion should be trusted. Did they rate the app or extension poorly because there is a problem with it, or did they not understand how to do something. Giving developers the chance to reply to reviews allows for greater transparency and allows others to see that the developer in question is reading feedback -- but it may not all be good news.

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Amazon to cease sale of Apple TV and Chromecast


As of 29 October, shoppers will no longer be able to buy Apple TV or Chromecast devices from Amazon. Citing compatibility issues with Prime Video, Amazon emailed marketplace sellers to inform them it is not accepting new listings for the two media devices, and any existing listings will be removed at the end of October.

The move indicates not only the importance Amazon places on its streaming Prime Video service, but also that it views Apple and Google as serious rivals. The two companies have yet to respond to the news, but it is unlikely to be well-received.

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Samsung hits back at claims that its TVs perform better in tests than in homes


Samsung has denied claims made by The Guardian that its TVs have a special power saving mode which is only used in laboratory testing to give the impression of better energy efficiency. The Guardian reports that independent labs have found Samsung televisions use less power in official testing than in real-world scenarios.

This prompted suspicions -- that echo the allegations levelled at car manufacturer VW -- that TVs have been rigged to perform better in energy efficiency tests. The European commission has promised to investigate any claims of cheating the system, but Samsung is adamant it has done nothing wrong, saying "we firmly reject this suggestion".

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LG V10 flagship boasts two screens and three cameras


In addition to the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition, today LG also announces its V10 Android phone with a secondary display. This is the device we got a sneak peek at a few days ago and, like the Huawei-made Nexus 6P, this is a premium level handset with a full metal body which builds on the specifications of the G4.

But the LG V10's standout feature is its secondary screen. In addition to the main 5.7-inch display, there is a second, narrow screen at the top of the handset that can be used not only to display notifications, but also to house shortcuts. This is not the only surprise on the front of the phone -- there are also two cameras.

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LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition is the first Android Wear smartwatch with cellular connectivity


The smartwatch wars are heating up, and LG is sending out new troops. Today the company announces the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition -- the first Android Wear smartwatch that offers LTE/3G connectivity.

LG describes the latest wearable as 'breaking the limits of a watch', and with the prospect of making phone-free calls with the Watch Urbane 2nd Edition, this would seem to be a fair description. The watch is compatible with iOS and Android, but it is the fact that it can be used on its own that is its real selling point.

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Microsoft and Google drop patent battles and agree to work together


These days, patent lawsuits are ten a penny and big players like Google, Apple, and Microsoft are frequently involved in litigation. Out of the blue, Microsoft and Google have announced that they are burying the hatchet and will no longer pursue patent issues between themselves in the courtroom.

But more than just kissing and making up, the two companies have announced that they will "collaborate on certain patent matters". Quite what this means moving forward remains to be seen, but it could mean that there are some interesting joint ventures on the horizon.

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Facebook reveals mobile profile overhaul including video profile pictures


Facebook today announced a series of updates to user profiles on mobile devices, and one of the first candidates for a revamp is the humble profile picture. There are a couple of interesting options to play with, including temporary profile pictures that change after a certain number of days.

This is an idea that was born from the popularity of banners which Facebook users added to their profile pictures to show support for a particular cause. Also in the pipeline are profile videos, which Facebook says will "add a new dimension to your profile". Forget static images, a looping video clip is now an option. But the profile updates don’t end there -- and, oddly, iPhone users are first in line to try out the new goodies.

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OS X Gatekeeper rendered useless by new malware exploit


On the day that Apple releases El Capitan details of an exploit that makes it possible to bypass the Gatekeeper feature of OS X have emerged. Designed to combat various forms of malware, the security feature can be bypassed using a simple trick involving the use of a signed binary.

Even when Gatekeeper is configured to use its highest level of protection, the ease with which the fortifications can be slipped through is staggering. Using a file that has already been deemed trustworthy by Apple, it is possible to trick OS X into executing a malicious file stored in the same folder as the signed one. No patch is yet available, and it is believed the problem affects all versions of OS X.

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Disable Wi-Fi Assist in iOS 9 to reduce data usage and cut your bill


We all demand to be connected at all times; losing connection to the internet is like losing a limb for some people. With this in mind, handset manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to introduce technologies that ensure as stable a connection as possible, switching between Wi-Fi and cellular as and when necessary.

It's something that can be found in iOS 9, but many people who have made the upgrade to the latest version of the operating system, or have just taken delivery of a new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, have been taken by surprise by it. The reason? iOS 9 has a feature called Wi-Fi Assist which will automatically switch to a cellular connection when Wi-Fi signal is weak, and it has led to a massive increase in data usage for some people. The solution to hefty data bills? Disable the feature.

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AdBlock Plus to introduce independent board to oversee Acceptable Ads program

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Ad blocking has been in the news quite a lot recently, not least because of iOS 9's new support for advertising avoidance. Perhaps the most famous tool in the arena is Adblock Plus. It's something that many people have become reliant on for cleaning up their online experience but Eyeo -- the company behind AdBlock Plus -- has been keen to encourage people to permit the display of some advertising through its Acceptable Ads program.

That companies can pay to bypass Adblock Plus is nothing new, although Adblock Plus insists that most ads that are deemed 'acceptable' are added for free. Today Eyeo announces that it is going to hand over control of the Acceptable Ads program to a completely independent board.

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If you're still using TrueCrypt, more security flaws mean it's time to move on


Security-minded computer users frequently turn to encryption to protect sensitive files. For those looking to go a step further, TrueCrypt offered full-disk encryption... at least it did until it was abandoned by its developers.

Since the software was dropped, researchers have discovered that it contains numerous security vulnerabilities, and two new flaws have been found that allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges. As part of Google's Project Zero, security researchers have been probing the encryption software -- which is still widely used -- for additional problems. The severity of the newly-discovered problems has led to renewed calls for remaining TrueCrypt users to seek an alternative.

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Edward Snowden is now a verified Twitter user


Former NSA contractor cum whistle-blower Edward Snowden is now officially on Twitter. Since blowing the lid on the surveillance activities of the NSA and sparking on-going global debate about privacy, Snowden has been a vocal campaigner for freedom of speech, privacy, and surveillance awareness.

Within hours of joining, Snowden -- who managed to bag the @snowden handle -- had amassed over half a million followers, and the flow shows no signs of abating. After a few hours, Snowden has posted just 7 tweets; but more interestingly he is only following one account.

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