BACtrack Personal Breathalyzer: $59.99

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

BACtrack Personal Breathalyzer

We have a deal for you today on the BACtrack Personal Breathalyzer, which the company says is the smallest police-grade alcohol tester ever created. You can see the results on the built-in OLED screen, or you have them sent to your companion app on iPhone or Android. This device is $59.99 through our deal.

Apple News App to Offer Live Election Night Coverage

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Apple News app on iPhone with Election Night coverage

On November 6th Apple is replacing the 2018 Midterm Elections channel in the News app with Election Night. The updated channel will offer real time updates, news, infographics, and election results. The switch will happen at 8 PM eastern time, according to TechCrunch. They say,

All the news coverage in the hub isn’t being driven by algorithms. For Apple News’ team, Election Night is an all-hands-on-deck type of situation involving real human editors. In fact, human editorial oversight is a key difference between Apple’s approach to news aggregation and curation, compared with competitors like Google, Twitter and Facebook — all of which have come under fire for their outsized roles in the spread of information, and, at times, disinformation.

The Election Night channel will replace the News Digest tab at bottom of the News app so it’ll be easy to find.

Smartphone Makers Face Challenges with Global Shipments Down 6%

· Charlotte Henry · Link

iPhone XR smartphone available in several colors

Global shipment of smartphones tumbled in the third fiscal quarter of 2018, IDC’s Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows. The firm says 355.2 million units were shipped in total during the quarter, a year-on-year decline of 6%. This fall was in large part down to Samsung, whose sales in the quarter dropped 13.4% from the same time last year. Huawei beat Apple for sales this quarter, but researchers said that the holiday period could see Apple return to the top of the pile. IDC believes there could be growth in the smartphone market in 2019. Manufacturers will certainly hope so—Q3 2018 was the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines.

Apple’s newest iPhones helped push third quarter shipments to 46.9 million units, up 0.5% from the 46.7 million units last year. Apple once again launched three new devices at its Fall event, as the new 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max and 5.8-inch iPhone XS were joined by the more affordable iPhone XR in the Apple line-up. The new XS Max and XS continue off the success from last year’s iPhone X but bring a new screen size option with more power and increased performance to the table. And Apple has once again improved the camera, upped the storage, and added a new faster processor via the A12 Bionic chip, which is the first 7-nanometer chip for Apple. Older iPhones, such as the 6S, 7, and 8, all received price cuts late in the quarter, which will balance the iPhone portfolio across all price tiers for the holiday quarter. The older SE and iPhone X from last year have been dropped from the Apple line-up. The fourth quarter will include shipments for the vastly popular iPhone XR, which have not been counted in IDC’s Q3 figures.

iPad Pro Finally a Capable Computer for Everyday Consumers

· Andrew Orr · Link

Jesus Diaz writes how he replaced his MacBook Pro with a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and hasn’t looked back since.

I’m able to do everything I used to do with my MacBook on my 12.9-inch iPad Pro…If you are thinking that an iPad with a keyboard is a laptop, you are wrong. The iPad is better than a laptop. Better than any other computer I’ve used before. And I’ve been looking for the perfect computer for a long time.

I’d love to get my hands on the new 11-inch iPad Pro, and my plan will be the same. I only ever use my MacBook Pro for writing and web browsing, and an iPad would be the perfect replacement for me.

Private Messages from 81,000 Hacked Facebook Accounts for Sale

· Charlotte Henry · Link

Facebook in a big pile of money

The BBC Russian Service has learned that at least 81,000 Facebook accounts have been compromised. Private messages have been published online and the perpetrators are trying to sell account login details. Facebook insists that its security has not been comprised and that it was likely the data had been obtained via malicious web browser extensions. The full details of the hack and the BBC’s investigation shed light into how our data is traded online.

The BBC understands many of the users whose details have been compromised are based in Ukraine and Russia. However, some are from the UK, US, Brazil and elsewhere.

The hackers offered to sell access for 10 cents (8p) per account. However, their advert has since been taken offline.

“We have contacted browser-makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores,” said Facebook executive Guy Rosen.

“We have also contacted law enforcement and have worked with local authorities to remove the website that displayed information from Facebook accounts.”

It’s Not Your Imagination: Smartphone Battery Life is Getting Worse

· Charlotte Henry · Link

iPhone XR in black, blue, and silver

Smartphone users have long insisted that their device’s battery life is getting worse. Now the Washington Post’s Geoffery A. Fowler, along with colleagues at other tech sites, have found that really is the case. Last year’s top smartphones mostly all out performed this year’s versions. One of the exceptions to this was the iPhone XR, which lasted for three hours more than a top-of-the-range iPhone XS.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been performing the same battery test over and over again on 13 phones. With a few notable exceptions, this year’s top models underperformed last year’s. The new iPhone XS died 21 minutes earlier than last year’s iPhone X. Google’s Pixel 3 lasted nearly an hour and a half less than its Pixel 2.

The report confirms that improvements in battery technology just aren’t keeping up with the high resolution OLED screens, processor heavy apps, and how much we use our phones each day. In other words, don’t look for battery life to improve any time soon.

Proposed Bill Would Jail Executives Who Mishandle Customer Data

· Andrew Orr · Link

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) proposed an early draft of a bill that would create harsher penalties for companies that mishandle customer data.

Wyden’s draft proposal, called the Consumer Data Protection Act, would give the FTC more authority and resources to police the use of data by adding a total of 175 new staff. Under the proposal, the FTC would also be allowed to fine companies up to 4 percent of revenue for a first offense.

The legislation would also create a centralized Do Not Track list meant to let consumers stop companies from sharing their data with third parties, or from using it for targeted advertising.

I think this sounds fantastic. Companies like Equifax that put Americans in danger by not properly securing our data should be heavily fined. Having the executives jailed is a bonus.

This 2MB Image Contains Entire Works of Shakespeare

· Andrew Orr · Link

A man named David Buchanan fit the entire works of William Shakespeare in a 2MB image. It’s an example of steganography, and it’s quite cool.

“So basically, I wrote a script which parses a JPG file and inserts a big blob of ICC metadata,” he said. “The metadata is carefully crafted so that all the required ZIP headers are in the right place.” This process was quite fiddly, he added, saying it took a few hours to complete, although he wrote the script itself over a span of a couple of months.

Since it’s a JPG image, you’ll have to unzip it via Terminal. Open Terminal, type unzip then drag and drop the image in. Unless you opened Terminal inside a specific folder, it will extract everything to your home directory.

CHOETECH 19W Solar Charger: $59.99

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

CHOETECH 19W Solar Charger

We have a deal on the CHOETECH 19W Solar Charge. This device puts 19 watts of solar charging power on your back, which is perfect for hiking and other extended outdoor activity. It operates with a conversion rate up to 23-24%, providing enough power to charge 2 devices at once, and it’s $59.99 through our deal.

MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro Is a Choice Between the Past and the Future

· Charlotte Henry · Link

2018 MacBook Air features.

The new, more powerful, MacBook Airs and iPad Pros launched at Apple’s “There’s More in the Making” event in Brooklyn on Tuesday gave users a compelling choice – could these be our main machines instead of something we just throw in a backpack?  Vlad Savov outlines the argument well over at The Verge:

In crafting its most compelling iPad and MacBook Air to date, Apple also created a major headache for people like me. I’m a member of that classic Intel ultrabook demographic whose computing needs are light but constant. You won’t catch me doing 3D modeling or 4K video production on my laptop, but I do a litany of small tasks online, in a word processor, or in Adobe’s Lightroom. I’ve been using a MacBook Pro for two years that does most of what I want, but it really doesn’t last long enough. Now, Apple is offering me the much better battery life I need with the high-quality display I desire, but it’s fragmented the choice. Both the new MacBook Air and new iPad Pro could be the ideal computer for me.

A not dissimilar conversation was on TMO Daily Observations in the wake of the event.

Apple May Buy Into iHeartMedia to Boost Apple Music Visibility

· Jeff Gamet · Link

Apple may invest in iHeartMedia

Apple is reportedly in talks to buy a stake in iHeartMedia. The radio broadcast company is currently US$20 billion in debt and desperately in need of a big cash infusion, which an Apple deal could provide. For Apple, it could bring Apple Music’s Beats 1 streaming radio station to a much wider audience. The Financial Times (subscription required) says,

A partnership could see Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio station, which is only available through its apps, make its debut on broadcast radio. Extra distribution would give Beats 1 and Apple Music greater awareness among older audiences who are later adopters of streaming services. A deal would also put the Apple station into more cars or kitchens.

The bigger benefit for Apple could be negotiating power. iHeartMedia is the largest radio broadcast company in the U.S., and owning part of that could help Apple to convince artists and labels to release first on Apple Music instead of Spotify.

Here's How Apple Watch Changed The World

· Andrew Orr · Link

John Biggs writes how the Apple Watch changed the world. Not just the watch industry, but people in general.

Watch analysts believe that Apple created a halo effect. Of the millions of people who bought and wore an Apple Watch, a majority had never worn or thought about wearing a watch. Once they tried the Apple Watch, however, and outfitted it with leather bands, fancy Milanese loops and outfit-matching colors, the attitude changed. If wearing watches is so fun and expressive, why not try other, more storied pieces?

China Wants Other Countries to use Great Firewall Tech

· Andrew Orr · Link

China is exporting its Great Firewall tech to other authoritarian countries, like Russia and Uganda, so they can censor their citizens better.

A new report from Freedom House — a US government-funded NGO — supports this. During 2018, the authors found, “internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year.”

“A cohort of countries is moving toward digital authoritarianism by embracing the Chinese model of extensive censorship and automated surveillance systems,” Freedom House said.

Publishers are Drooling Over These Tiny Books

· Andrew Orr · Link

Book publishers want to breathe new life into the industry by making tiny books the size of a smartphone.

This month, Dutton, which is part of Penguin Random House, began releasing its first batch of mini books, with four reissued novels by the best-selling young-adult novelist John Green. The tiny editions are the size of a cellphone and no thicker than your thumb, with paper as thin as onion skin. They can be read with one hand — the text flows horizontally, and you can flip the pages upward, like swiping a smartphone.

I know this is a moot point but I already have smartphone-sized books inside my smartphone. Still though, I’m sure these will be popular among commuters and travelers.

UK Wants Apple to Open NFC Chip for Passports

· Andrew Orr · Link

The U.K. government wants Apple to open up the NFC chip so citizens can scan their passports. It will help EU citizens apply for residency after Brexit.

Home secretary Sajid Javid visited Apple in Cupertino to discuss the matter. Apple is said to be resistant and has not promised yet that it will change its NFC policy. The report says the government is “continuing to engage with Apple at the highest level”.

The Dutch government is also pressuring Apple to adapt its NFC policy, as it also wants to offer apps for its citizens with integrated passport scanning.

I think Apple will eventually add this capability as things slowly start to shift digitally. Imagine keeping not only your credit cards and boarding passes in the Wallet app, but your passport and driver’s license as well.

Kids Apps Are Full of Inappropriate Advertising

· Andrew Orr · Link

Kids apps have a lot more ads than you might think, and they could contain inappropriate advertising.

A stunning 95 percent of commonly downloaded apps that are marketed to or played by children age five and under contain at least one type of advertising…Often the ads are intrusive, spread across in a banner or even interrupting play…One app geared to young children had a popup that linked to a political game showing a cartoon version of Trump trying not to push the red button that will send nukes…

FODI Origami Multi-Purpose Device Stand: $14.99

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

FODI Origami Multi-Purpose Device Stand

Check out today’s deal of the day on FODI, a multipurpose stand that folds into shape like origami. Though thin, it supports 44 pounds when folded into shape, it will also unfold flat if you ever want to move it. It’s $14.99 through our deal.

Women Who Code Helps Women Stay in Tech Fields

· Andrew Orr · Link

Women Who Code is an organization that boasts over 137,000 members. It supports women in tech and encourages them to stick with the field.

A recent study by the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) revealed that women held 57% of all professional occupations, yet they held only 25% of all computing occupations. And the numbers are even lower when considering women of color; for example, Latinas and black women hold only 1% and 3% of these jobs, respectively.

Supporting women in tech is important, and The Mac Observer‘s Kelly Guimont does something similar with her volunteer work at App Camp for Girls.

NordVPN 1-Year Subscription: $60

· Bryan Chaffin · TMO Deals

NordVPN on MacBook and iPhone

We have a deal on a 1-year subscription to NordVPN. All data sent through NordVPN’s private tunnels is double encrypted (double data SSL-based 2048-bit encryption). There are 3,521 servers in 61 countries, you can connect up to 6 devices, and you get unlimited data. The company has a no-log policy, too, and it will work with Mac, iOS, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android devices. One year of NordVPN is $60 through us, and there’s a 2-year option available in the deal listing, too.

AirPods and the Future of Audio AR

· Andrew Orr · Link

Daniel Dilger wrote an interesting article about AirPods and audio AR. While we didn’t see new AirPods at today’s event, they could be a key component of Apple’s AR ambitions.

The best AR implementations exist in various forms that remain captivating for long periods of time, works virtually anywhere and across an installed base of nearly a billion iOS devices, has immediacy practical applications in the enterprise, and which a broad swath of people will actually pay something to use.

I could’ve sworn I once read a quote from Tim Cook saying that he didn’t see AirPods as AR wearables per se, but I can’t find it. In any case though, I’ve been thinking along similar lines as Mr. Dilger. AirPods, Apple Watch, and the rumored Apple Glasses would all work together to form a more intimate mobile experience.