Category: Electronic Product Reviews

Five Security Settings In iOS 12 You Should Change Right Now

iOS 12, Apple’s  latest mobile software for iPhone and iPad, is finally out. The new software packs in a bunch of new security and privacy features you’ve probably already heard about.

Here’s what you need to do to take advantage of the new settings and lock down your device.

1. Turn on USB Restricted Mode to make hacking more difficult.

Photo: TechCrunch

This difficult-to-find new feature prevents any accessories from connecting to your device — like USB cables and headphones — when your iPhone or iPad has been locked for more than an hour. That prevents police and hackers alike from using tools to bypass your lock screen passcode and get your data.

Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and type in your passcode. Then, scroll down and ensure that USB Accessoriesare not permitted on the lock screen, so make sure the setting is Off. (On an iPhone X, check your Face ID settings instead.)

2. Make sure automatic iOS updates are turned on.

Photo: TechCrunch

Every time your iPhone or iPad updates, it comes with a slew of security patches to prevent crashes or data theft. Yet, how often do you update your phone? Most don’t bother unless it’s a major update. Now, iOS 12 will update your device behind the scenes, saving you downtime. Just make sure you switch it on.

Go to Settings > General > Software Update and turn on automatic updates.

3. Set a stronger device passcode.

Photo: TechCrunch

iOS has gotten better in recent years with passcodes. For years, it was a four-digit code by default, and now it’s six-digits. That makes it far more difficult to run through every combination — known as brute-forcing.

But did you know that you can set a number-only code of any length? Eight-digits, twelve — even more — and it keeps the number keypad on the lock screen so you don’t have to fiddle around with the keyboard.

Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and enter your passcode. Then, go to Change password and, from the options, set a Custom Numeric Code.

4. Now, switch on two-factor authentication.

Photo: TechCrunch

Two-factor is one of the best ways to keep your account safe. If someone steals your password, they still need your phone to break into your account. For years, two-factor has been cumbersome and annoying. Now, iOS 12 has a new feature that auto-fills the code, so it takes the frustration step out of the equation — so you have no excuse.

You may be asked to switch on two-factor when you set up your phone. You can also go to Settings and tap your name, then go to Password & Security. Just tap Turn on Two-Factor Authentication and follow the prompts.

5. While you’re here… change your reused passwords.

Photo: TechCrunch

iOS 12’s password manager has a new feature: password auditing. If it finds you’ve used the same password on multiple sites, it will warn you and advise you to change those passwords. It prevents password reuse attacks (known as “credential stuffing“) that hackers use

iPhone XS review: A slight notch above the iPhone X – CNET

The iPhone XS is an “S” iPhone, an overall polish and refinement of the bold iPhone X ($820 at Amazon Marketplace) from last year. But unlike “S” iPhones of years past, the XS doesn’t have one new, impressive feature. Instead, it spreads out the improvements, the most notable being its cameras and the new A12 Bionic chip, another step up in speed that could offer a major difference in AI, AR and graphics. A great phone has gotten better.

I remember how it felt to try that 2017 iPhone X for the first time. Exciting. Sometimes frustrating. I spent a lot of time testing Face ID, figuring out gestures. But ditching the home button and moving to a face-based login ended up working — and allowed the iPhone to go nearly all-screen, at last.

That was Apple’s gamble for its 10th-anniversary iPhone, and it paid off. The radically redesigned handset was priced at $1,000 — unprecedented for a mainstream phone — and it’s been the best-selling phone in the company’s line since.

For an encore, Apple has multiplied the offerings. The new X line now has three models, all with Face ID, all with large screens. And two of the three still come at laptop-level prices: the 5.8-inch iPhone XS and the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max ($1,099 at Apple), which start at $999 and $1,099, respectively. (Apple wants you to pronounce it like “tennis”. Most people will pronounce it like “excess.”)

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Bigger, big.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The iPhone XS and XS Max follow in the footsteps of S-year iPhones — they’re faster, with better camera hardware that will make everyday photography more professional-looking. But except for dual SIM support, there isn’t a brand-new feature like Touch ID or 3D Touch this time. And, unlike past camera differences between the smaller and Plus-sized phones, the XS Max and XS are spec-identical. You’re only choosing between “large” and “extra large,” and the bit of battery and extra screen real estate that come with it.

iPhone XS prices
iPhone XS (64GB) iPhone XS (256GB) iPhone XS (512GB) US $999 $1,149 $1,349 UK £999 £1,149 £1,349 Australia AU$1,629 AU$1,879 AU$2,199

Both the iPhone XS and XS Max are great phones, fantastic refinements and incredibly promising hubs for your super-connected universe. As you’d expect, they’re the best iPhones at the moment. But here’s the twist: That third new iPhone, the iPhone XR, may be the best pick for anyone upgrading from any iPhone other than the 2017 iPhone X

It has many of the same features as the XS, but with a larger yet lower-resolution 6.1-inch LCD screen compared to the XS, and — according to Apple — better battery life. And it’s $250 cheaper to start — only $50 more than the iPhone 8‘s starting price this time last year. 

Unfortunately,

Apple iPhone XS Max review: Gigantic-screen phone for a gigantic price – CNET

There’s a reason Apple may not have called the XS Max the XS Plus. For years, a Plus-sized iPhone has offered a bigger screen, a bit better battery life and a better dual rear camera. This year, the iPhone XS and XS Max have identical processors, RAM and cameras. Getting the new 6.5-inch Max is really about increasing the size of that screen, and getting a little extra battery to boot. It’ll cost you $100 for the privilege.

I’ve been using the Max and the smaller XS for the last week. The Max has a fantastic big display, and it feels the same to hold as an iPhone 8 Plus. So, if you like that size, go for it — if you can afford it.

The Max might be growing on me, but the 5.8-inch iPhone X (and XS) already pulled off a great feat in fitting more screen in a smaller size. Going back to a bigger phone after that feels like defeating the purpose. But it’s a personal choice now. I’ve always liked the 10.5-inch iPad Pro versus the 12.9-inch. I like the 13-inch MacBook over the 15. Others feel differently. So, too, the XS and Max.

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The size difference is not always that big.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What does that screen size give you? The display on the XS Max has tons of pixels: 2,688×1,242, in fact. Movies and games, in particular, look great on it. It’s as nice as a Kindle. But side by side with the XS, there’s not always a dramatic difference. In fact, I found myself getting confused when I saw both on a table.

The smaller XS’ screen resolution is 2,436×1,125 pixels. That’s not a huge difference. But it can do just enough to make a video nicer to look at, or a document better to read and edit, or a photo easier to see fine details in.

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Kinda smaller than a Kindle.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The notch at the top of the XS Max is the same as the X and XS, and it feels like it vanishes more on the larger-bodied phone, making the all-screen effect more immersive. By the way, it’s a damn nice display… the OLED looks better this time around, and I’ve enjoyed looking at it. It’s my favorite Apple device display.

You can see a few more things, sometimes. Much like the Plus iPhones, a few apps have a dual-pane split view — Notes and Apple’s Mail are a few key ones. It all depends on the app, though. Apps need to update to take advantage of this, or add support for the Max’s extra pixels. Similarly, some websites enter a more iPad or laptop-like full-web mode in landscape mode on Safari, but I only had luck with a few so far, The New York Times being one of them. Your mileage may vary here.

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Video comparison: XS and XS Max.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It’s a big phone to hold, once again. It feels like the

Trump Can Message You Directly On FEMA Alert System To Be Tested Next Week

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is testing a new “presidential alert” system nationwide for the first time next week that will make it possible for Donald Trump to directly message nearly everyone in the nation who has a cell phone.

Officials insisted that the system cannot be used for political purposes. FEMA also assured people that it can’t track cell phone users’ locations through the alert system.

No one with a cell phone can opt out of presidential alerts.

The Wireless Emergency Alert system message test is being carried out by FEMA in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, FEMA said in a statement posted on its website Thursday.

In the test next week everyone will receive a message that will look like a text and will be headed “Presidential Alert,” said FEMA.

Users whose service providers participate in the test, whose phones are on and within range of a cell phone tower will first hear a tone and vibration — twice. Everyone will then receive this message in English: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

More than 100 mobile carriers are participating in the test at 2:18 p.m. Eastern times on Thursday September 20.

The system is the latest generation of warnings at a time when more people are typically linked at any one time to their cell phones than radios or TVs. Emergency alerts will also continue to be available on NOAA Weather Radio, news broadcasts, the Emergency Alert System on radio and TV programs and via outdoor sirens.

Two minutes after the WEA tests, FEMA will also test nationwide warnings of the Emergency Alert System, which is similar to the older Emergency Broadcast System and sends alerts via radio and television.

The 2015 law authorizing the WEA system allows warnings to be sent only in times of “natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety,” NBC News noted.

If you separate this from the politics and personality of any individual president, then this is a great idea and an amazing use of technology to reach everybody if they’re in harms way,” Karen North, director of the Annenberg Digital Social Media program at the University of Southern California, told NBC.

Courtesy of FEMA

Origin PC Eon17-X (2018) review: Top-notch performance at a top-shelf price – CNET

We were big fans of last year’s version of the Origin Eon17-X, and this year’s edition is even better — and more expensive.

The Eon17-X, which now starts at just over $2,000, is essentially a desktop gaming system crammed into a laptop. Yes, it’s technically more portable than hauling around a monitor, desktop tower and all of the peripherals — and it’s also lighter than rivals including the 10-pound Alienware 17 (R4, 2017). Still, the Eon-17-X is massive, measuring 16.4 by 11.6 inches, and weighing in at 8.6 pounds. The modest battery life — we got about 2.5 hours in our test — presumes you won’t stray too far from the wall socket. (And like nearly all contemporary laptops, this one does not have a removable battery.)

The benefits of all of that bulk are significant, however. Ultimately, performance is the no. 1 priority for any gaming PC — and in every one of our benchmark tests, the Eon17-X simply annihilated the competition in both performance benchmarks and gaming frame-rate tests. The games I played, including Doom and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, ran smoothly — with no discernible stuttering or lag. The Nvidia GeForce 1080 GPU, which is near the top of the line, is powerful enough to play virtually any game at full HD resolution and with high detail settings. It’s also extremely VR-ready. 

Our higher-end configuration, currently priced at $3,412 (or approximately £2,622 and AU$4,805), didn’t even come with every top-shelf component Origin PC offers. But the included hardware was no joke: Intel‘s 3.7GHz Core i7 8700K six-core chipset — a desktop processor — and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 (overclockable) graphics card, added $245 (£185 or AU$340) and $659 (£500 or AU$915) to the price, respectively. Origin PC will sell to customers internationally — but a machine this size will not travel cheaply; the price to ship via UPS Ground to my home in Maine added about $50 to the price.

Origin PC Eon-17X (2018) Price as reviewed $3,412  Display size/resolution 17.3-inch 1,920×1,080-pixel HD G-Sync IPS display CPU Six-core Intel 3.7GHz Core i7 8700K Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,800MHz Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (overclockable) Storage 2 x 256GB SSD RAID 0 + 1TB HDD Webcam Built-in 2.0-megapixel FHD camera and mic Networking Qualcomm 10/100/1000MB Base-TX Ethernet LAN, 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1 Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Origin PC provides numerous options across a wide array of components — you can choose from among five CPUs, three GPUs, more than two dozen memory configurations and many, many hard drive combinations. The company will happily assemble a system with every top-end component at its disposal, including a 4TB Samsung 860 PRO Series SSD and a 64GB Kingston HyperX Impact 3,200 MHz memory card, for the price of a decent

Test drive: Onewheel+ XR vs the streets of New York City – CNET

There are a lot of ways to get from point A to point B, but it’s not always about just getting there. Sometimes it’s about enjoying the ride. The Onewheel+ XR is a self-balancing one-wheeled motorized scooter that had me running extra errands as an excuse to ride.

When stationary, it looks like a workout balance board. In motion, it resembles a skateboard but handles more like a snow or surfboard. The Onewheel+ XR is the third version of this device and adds more range and torque to the previous models.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Onewheel+ XR costs $1,799 in the US which is more than last year’s Onewheel+ (a relative bargain at $1,399), but the XR can take you 12-18 miles versus the 5-7 miles on the older model.  In the UK, the XR model is £1,949 and in Australia AU$3,000, those higher prices are because it’s an import-only item. 

Now playing: Watch this: There can be only Onewheel

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In my feet-on testing, the Onewheel+ felt sturdy (it’s rated for up to 300 pounds) and ran smooth and silent. But if not careful, riders can easily fall and potentially get knocked around by the spinning wheel. That’s because mounting and dismounting the board can be tricky, and there’s an art to how you get on and off the board,

Here’s how I got used to it: The board is weighted on one side. Riders start by placing their foot on that side, which should be resting on the ground. Next place the other foot on the raised side of the board.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There’s a horizontal blue line across the raised portion of the board. That line visually separates two sensors under the pad. When a foot is placed across both parts of the line the board can be rocked to a level position where it will self-balance. From that point, you shift your weight to your left or right foot, and from heel to toe, to steer the Onewheel.

One potential danger: If you dismount by taking the wrong foot off first, the wheel may spinout, sending you flying. Try it on a soft surface, like grass, first until you get the hang of it. Another suggestion: You should probably wear a helmet and possibly wrist guards.

Once familiar with the board and its moves, riders can take to the streets, trails and anywhere else their heart desires. For those not wanting to ride alone, there’s a small but engaged community of Onewheelers throughout the country, doing trail rides and getting together for city rides. Onewheel friends can be found through the iOS or Android apps, which also display battery level, distance traveled and speed. The performance can also be tweaked in the app — there’s a climbing mode with the nose slightly raised, and high-speed mode that can hit 20mph.

One final feature in the app is a global leaderboard, where you can

The New $1,449 iPhone Won't Include A Free Headphone Dongle

In what sure seems like a blatant bit of nickel-and-diming, Apple will no longer include a free 3.5-mm headphone jack conversion dongle with the new iPhones it announced on Wednesday.

(Apple does include a pair of lightning earbuds in the box.)

Predictably, folks on Twitter did not greet the news favorably. It turns out the only thing worse than having to use a dongle is … not having one at all: 

Apple: “We were able to keep the price of the iPhone Xs the same as the iPhone X by courageously removing the dongle for your headphones! Now you don’t need to worry about losing the dongle we never gave you!” pic.twitter.com/4l91gKM2fH

— Juan Carlos Bagnell (@SomeGadgetGuy) September 12, 2018

AND adding to the story: No more headphone jack dongle included in the box. A trillion dollar company just removed a simple accessory that costs pennies to manufacture. The proprietary dongles are basically pure profit for @apple. (That’s why they sell 23 different kinds now.) pic.twitter.com/lnCF41g3IO

— JerryRigEverything (@ZacksJerryRig) September 13, 2018

Apple’s spec sheet:
– Fast charging (if you buy an extra accessory)
– Wireless charging (if you buy an extra accessory)
– Headphone compatibility (if you buy an extra accessory)

— Vlad Savov (@vladsavov) September 13, 2018

Apple. A trillion dollar accessory company. The new PowerBook still has the old headphone jack … and USB-C ports that need all new cables and dongles too. #hate

— Colin McCavitt (@colinmccavitt) September 13, 2018

Road to quadrillion is built through dongles…

— Sandesh Sagvekar (@sandeshSagveka3) September 13, 2018