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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

It’s not exactly a secret that Google will be announcing a slew of new gadgets next week at itshardware event on October 4. VentureBeat can confirm that the world will indeed be introduced to a Google Pixel and a Google Pixel XL.

Google PixelThe Google Pixel VentureBeat

Rumors that Google is launching two new phones later this year — codenamed Sailfish and Marlin — have been circulating for months. The smartphones are supposed to ditch the Nexus branding in favor of Pixel and be built by HTC.

Google Pixel, the smaller of the two devices, was first detailed under its Sailfish codename byAndroid Police in June. That report said the phone would have a 5-inch 1080p display, quad-core 2.0GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 2770 mAh battery, a 12MP rear camera, and an 8MP front camera. The report also said users could expect a top-mountedheadphone jack, a fingerprint scanner on the rear (à la Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P), and a USB-C port on the bottom. The Google Pixel XL will sport similar specs, except for a 5.5-inch QHD display and a 3450mAh battery, also according to Android Police.

Google Pixel xlThe Google Pixel XL VentureBeat

You can expect these phones on Verizon in the U.S. and unlocked when purchased directly from Google, of course. Expect details for other carriers around the world to follow. Android Police expects that the smaller Google Pixel will start at $649, which would make the entry price tag more expensive than for any Nexus lineup yet. But these aren’t Nexus phones. They’re Pixels.

Read the original article on VentureBeat. Copyright 2016. Follow VentureBeat on Twitter.

Source: businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Sep 2016

Privacy watchdog says data-sharing scheme is 'an infringement of national data protection law'

Facebook has been ordered to stop collecting and storing data on WhatsApp users in Germany, marking the first regulatory challenge to a controversial data-sharing scheme that the social media company announced in August. In a statement published Tuesday, Germany's privacy watchdog said that sharing WhatsApp user data with Facebook, the messaging app's parent company, constitutes "an infringement of national data protection law." The regulatory body also ordered Facebook to delete all data that has already been transferred from WhatsApp.

Facebook's data-sharing scheme has been closely monitored by privacy groups across Europe. When Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, the app's co-founder, Jan Koum, assured users that their privacy would not be compromised. Under the policy announced in August, however, WhatsApp will share some user data — including phone numbers — with Facebook, and plans to allow businesses to contact users directly through its app.

"FACEBOOK HAS TO ASK FOR THEIR PERMISSION IN ADVANCE. THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED."

WhatsApp has said that the arrangement will allow Facebook to deliver more targeted advertising and friend suggestions, and that analytics data will help combat spam and fraud. But privacy advocates have criticized the companies for not being transparent about the change. In a blog post published after the announcement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) described the move as "a clear threat to users’ control of how their WhatsApp data is shared and used."

Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg data protection commissioner, echoed those concerns in a statement on Tuesday, saying that Facebook has not "obtained effective approval" of the policy change from WhatsApp users. Caspar also expressed concern that Facebook may eventually seek to collect data on a broader range of users, including those listed in WhatsApp contacts lists who are not connected to Facebook.

"This administrative order protects the data of about 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany," Caspar said. "It has to be their decision, whether they want to connect their account with Facebook. Therefore, Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance. This has not happened."

Other privacy regulators have raised concerns over the data-sharing scheme. CNIL, France's data protection authority and the chair of a group of privacy regulators across Europe, said in August that privacy watchdogs will be monitoring the change to WhatsApp's policy "with great vigilance." The Information Commission's Office (ICO), Britain's data privacy regulator, also said it would monitor how data is shared across the two platforms, though it does not have the authority to block the scheme altogether.

In an email statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company will appeal the order from Germany's privacy watchdog.

"Facebook complies with EU data protection law," the spokesperson said. "We will appeal this order and we will work with the Hamburg DPA in an effort to address their questions and resolve any concerns."

 

Update September 27th, 10:39AM ET: Updated with new statement from Facebook, clarifying the company's plans to appeal.

Source: theverge.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 26th Sep 2016

MI6 headquarters in LondonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, is to grow by nearly 1,000 staff by 2020, BBC Newsnight has learned.

The spy agency argues the planned boost - from 2,500 staff to a little under 3,500 - has been made necessary by the development of the internet and technology.

MI6 will use the extra staff to ensure the security of people and operations.

No public announcement has been made, but the BBC has established the 40% boost via Whitehall sources.

Intelligence bosses around the world are trying to work out how they can continue to operate covertly in an age where almost everyone in Western societies has left traces on the internet, making it far harder to create fictitious identities.

Facial recognition technology has also reached the point where images - for example of an intelligence officer travelling under an assumed identity - can be easily reverse searched to find pictures posted online under their real identity, before they joined MI6 or the CIA.

'Fundamental changes'

In a rare public appearance in Washington DC on Tuesday, Alex Younger, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, alluded to the scale of this challenge.

"The information revolution fundamentally changes our operating environment," he said.

"In five years' time there will be two sorts of intelligence services - those that understand this fact and have prospered, and those that don't and haven't.

"And I'm determined that MI6 will be in the former category."

MI6 is set to secure the lion's share of additional people for the intelligence services promised by the government in its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

That pledged 1,900 additional staff, but MI6 will get most of that figure, with the Security Service (MI5), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, the eavesdropping organisation), and police Counter Terrorist Command sharing the remainder.

MI6 headquarters in LondonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The scale of challenge faced by spymasters became clearer in 2010, following theassassination of a Palestinian militant in Dubai by a team believed to have been sent there by Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence arm.

It quickly became clear that the hit team had travelled on European passports that had been cloned, and belonged to real people who had visited or were living in Israel.

It is thought Mossad may have done this because of the difficulties of operating today with completely false identities.

MI6 officers fear that sensitive operations will be increasingly open to compromise by foreign spies or even militant groups skilled at using the internet.

'Increasing visibility'

"Our opponents who are unconstrained by conditions of lawfulness or proportionality can use these capabilities to gain increasing visibility of our activities which means that we have to completely change the way that we do stuff," Mr Younger said.

Both MI6 and GCHQ face increasing challenges also because of the breakdown in co-operation between technology firms and the agencies following the revelations of US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"To the extent that those revelations damaged and undermined the trust that needs to exist, I think it's highly problematic," said Mr Younger.

Mark Urban is diplomatic and defence editor for BBC Newsnight. More on this story on the programme at 22:30 on BBC Two - or you can catch up afterwards on iPlayer

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 26th Sep 2016

Heart rate on monitorImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionThe NHS is rich in data and Google is the world's biggest data mining firm

Google's artificial intelligence unit DeepMind is getting serious about healthcare - with ambitious plans to digitise the NHS - but first it needs to convince patients to hand over their medical records.

Back in February, it began work with the Royal Free to create an app to help doctors spot patients who might be at risk of developing kidney disease.

The first most knew of the partnership was when it emerged some months laterthat it would be accessing 1.6 million patient records as part of the deal.

Patient recordsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionThe records shared by the Royal Free go back over the past five years and include full names

That led to some pretty negative headlines and questions from some of the patients involved as to why they had not been informed their data was being used in this way.

The app - dubbed Streams - is now under investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) while the National Data Guardian, which is tasked with safeguarding health data, is also looking at it.

Newly determined to forge a better relationship with the public, Google hosted its first ever patient engagement forum this week at its new headquarters in King's Cross, pledging that it wanted, in future, to work in closer partnership with the public.

"Patients are at the heart of what we do and as we embark on this decade-long opportunity, we really need a diverse group of people to help us design the products," said Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind and head of DeepMind Health.

The audience was polite during the presentation - making encouraging comments and seeming excited about the possibilities.

So far, DeepMind has two other continuing projects:

  • research into age-related macular degeneration at Moorfields Eye Hospital which will involve the use of one million anonymised patient scans
  • a new partnership with University College Hospital to see if machine learning can speed up the time it takes to plan radiotherapy for head and neck cancers.

But, during the course of the forum, it became clear that DeepMind has much more ambitious plans when it comes to patient data, so much so that anyone attending could have been forgiven for thinking that it had won a contract to digitise the NHS.

Mr Suleyman spoke at length about a patient portal that would be accessible to both patients and doctors and available on their own smartphones.

A doctor with clipboardImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

It would allow doctors to search a patient's entire medical history in chronological order before they arrived at their bedside. Patients may be able to input their own data, for example, if they suddenly had a change in their condition or experienced problems after an operation.

The plan shocked some audience members who had not spoken out earlier.

"What was astounding to me, was the sense of entitlement that this commercial company clearly feels to access NHS patient medical records without consent and that many in the room seemed to have accepted that unquestioningly," said Jen Persson, a co-ordinator from campaign group Defenddigitalme.

"Patients have been left out so far of what DeepMind has done. The firm is not at the start of 'patient and public engagement' as it put it, but playing catch-up after getting caught getting it wrong," she added.

The patient portal is just an idea at this stage, admitted Mr Suleyman, and his team is probably "years away from building it".

The audience raised concerns about how safe such data would be and valid questions were asked about how DeepMind could ensure data did not get into the wrong hands.

"It may be that we stream data so it is not stored on a local device or that we have Trust-owned devices with an encrypted operating system or that data won't be accessible outside of the Trust's wi-fi," offered Mr Suleyman.

But he admitted there were also big hurdles: "How do patients verify themselves, how do we handle someone forgetting their password? There is a lot of work to do."

There is currently no national agreement between the NHS and DeepMind and the BBC understands that there was no representative from NHS England at the event.

Charity

The forum - which was a mix of formal speeches from doctors and patients who have been involved in DeepMind's trials as well as views from the audience - also heard from a health data-sharing advocate, Graham Silk.

The businessman was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2001 and given three years to live. He found out for himself the power of having his data in the right hands when he was invited to join a trial with an experimental new drug.

He has since set up a charity to put doctors and patients in touch with new drug trials and believes that we have a hypocritical view when it comes to data-sharing.

"Millions go on Amazon every day and give away their name, address, bank account details and it is bizarre that they don't feel the same about health data which has the power to do the most good," he said.

He thinks data is the "lifeblood" of the NHS but cannot understand why some patients might be wary of sharing information that could ultimately save their life or the lives of others.

He wants to see a system where the NHS can earn money from selling patient data to commercial partners.

"Much of the focus of the media and others is on whether using data is safe but, if we are to improve patient outcomes, we have to utilise this precious asset."

Perhaps the most pertinent question posed during the forum was one from a patient who asked simply: "What's in it for Google?"

Mr Suleyman has previously told the BBC: "Ultimately we want to get paid when we deliver concrete clinical benefits. We want to get paid to change the system and improve patient outcomes," something he reiterated at the event.

Ms Persson is not convinced.

"DeepMind couldn't answer clearly what their business model was with these NHS Trusts and what was in it for Google.

"Given that Google spent over £400m buying the DeepMind start-up in 2014, they clearly expect to make money from something," she said.

A hospital corridorImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Google is not the only firm that the NHS shares data with but it is difficult to say how many there are as they are not centrally stored and each trust makes its own agreements.

Each one goes through a rigorous approval process.

DeepMind said that patient information is held "with the highest level of security and encryption.. and isn't shared with Google."

Patients can opt out of sharing data by emailing their NHS Trust's data protection officer.

Only 148 Royal Free patients decided to do so after learning about the DeepMind partnership.

Those figures chime with a survey commissioned by medical research charity the Wellcome Foundation earlier this year to find out more about public attitudes to data sharing.

Larry PageImage copyrightAP

Image captionGoogle co-founder Larry Page, who suffers with a vocal cords problem, has made no secret of the fact he believes everyone should share their health data

Its survey of more than 2,000 patients, conducted in April, found that most were unaware that their data was being shared with commercial organisations and that there were "red lines" that patients felt should never be crossed - such as sharing data with insurance companies.

But only 17% said that they would never consent to their anonymised data being shared with third parties, even for research purposes.

There is obviously a lot of good that can be done with patient data and advances in data mining and artificial intelligence offer an incredible new tool for doctors and care-givers.

But it is a tool that needs to be used carefully, thinks Ms Persson.

"Hospital trusts should think twice before gifting commercial companies confidential data on an ad hoc basis, without informed patient consent, without transparent oversight, and patients should be asking what precisely will it be used for, by whom, and with what safeguards."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 26th Sep 2016

HP signImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Large numbers of HP printer owners found their printers stopped recognising unofficial printer ink cartridges on 13 September.

Dutch printer ink vendor 123inkt said it had received more than 1,000 complaints in one day.

HP said that during its last firmware update, settings had been changed so HP printers would communicate with only HP-chipped cartridges.

It also said some devices already had the functionality built-in.

123inkt said it did not believe that a firmware update had been issued since March 2016, suggesting the change had been pre-programmed to roll out this month.

HP said such updates were rolled out "periodically" but did not comment on the timing of the last instalment.

"The purpose of this update is to protect HP's innovations and intellectual property," it said in a statement.

It has angered some of its customers as HP branded cartridges are notably more expensive than unofficial brands.

'Cartridge problem'

Reported error messages include "cartridge problem", "one or more cartridges are missing or damaged" or "older generation cartridge".

One contributor to HP's support forum said the firmware had been updated "without my permission" and an error message now said the ink cartridge was damaged.

"I use it daily for work and now am in trouble," he wrote.

"Others must have the same problem. Is there a way to stop HP from doing this to people who have bought their equipment?"

The HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X printers are affected.

Chipped cartridges filled with alternative ink would still work, HP told the BBC.

It said: "These printers will continue to work with refilled or remanufactured cartridges with an original HP security chip. Other cartridges may not function.

"In many cases, this functionality was installed in the HP printer and in some cases it has been implemented as part of an update to the printer's firmware," it added.

'(Un)intended result'

123inkt said it had been able to develop new chips for its own label of cartridges that were compatible, and these were currently in production, but that the problem itself was not unusual.

"Printer manufacturers regularly execute firmware-updates, claiming that they improve the operation of the printer or solve security issues," it said.

"The (un)intended result usually is that the operation of lower price private label cartridges is disturbed and error messages are triggered."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 26th Sep 2016

 

A cartoon bear

A hacking group calling itself Fancy Bears has stolen athletes' medical data from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

The details show which athletes were allowed to take otherwise banned substances for medical reasons.

The group says it will "go on exposing the athletes who violate the principles of fair play by taking doping substances".

But who are the Fancy Bears and why are they doing it?

A lot of fingers are pointing at Russia.

According to cyber security company Crowdstrike, Fancy Bears are a Russian-based threat group.

Crowdstrike's co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, has written a blogwhich says the group is also known as Sofacy or APT 28.

He says their style "closely mirrors the strategic interests of the Russian government".

There are also suggestions it may have links with the Main Intelligence Agency.

Fancy Bears website

Richard Ings, the former Australian Anti-Doping Agency chief, agrees with Dmitri on their nationality.

In an article in The Guardian he says he "believes the hacking is the Russians taking revenge on Wada for finding state-sponsored doping across many sports in the country".

There is no mention on the Fancy Bears website about their location

However, many of the comments on their early posts are written in Russian - and they are in support of the hack.

Then there's the Russian Embassy Twitter account, which certainly isn't doing much to deter suggestions about the hackers' origins.

 

Russian Embassy, UK ✔@RussianEmbassy

1/1 @wada_ama hacking:there should be nothing private about doping files of participants of Olympics,which are a very public affair

View image on Twitter

 Follow

Russian Embassy, UK ✔@RussianEmbassy

1/2 Some are more equal than others?

2:41 PM - 15 Sep 2016

Wada has also said that Fancy Bears are Russian in their statementconfirming the validity of the documents.

But Russia's denied having anything to do with the hack.

Some people have linked the group with other attacks

The New York Times said the Bears are possibly the group who "compromised the Democratic National Committee's servers".

Crowdstrike also refers to this in its blog, saying they "identified the hacking group as the mastermind behind this summer's DNC email leak" - when thousands of emails from the Democrat Party were made public.

In addition, they link Fancy Bear to attacks on France's TV5 Monde in 2015 and the German Bundestag.

We don't actually know anything about them for sure

Fancy Bears have alluded to the fact they are linked with Anonymous.

Their website says: "We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us. Anonymous - #OpOlympics"

But nothing has been confirmed and Anonymous haven't posted anything to confirm the links.

Everything about their location, motivation and profile is all speculation at the moment.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Sep 2016

Software will work on iPhone 5 and above

iOS 10

iOS 10 arrives on 13 September

Apple's iOS 10 software update will be made available for download on 13 September, three days ahead of the iPhone 7 release.

The firm announced during Wednesday's keynote that iOS 10 will be available on existing devices from next Tuesday, along with watchOS 3, and promptly seeded the Gold Master release to developers.

iOS 10 will run on the iPhone 5 and above, which means that those still using an iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 will be left behind.

On the iPad side, iOS 10 will work with all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, the 4th-generation iPad, and the iPad mini 2 and later. iOS 10 will also work with Apple's sixth-generation iPod Touch. 

iOS 10 was announced at WWDC in June and includes a major Siri upgrade. Apple has released new APIs so that developers can build it into third-party apps. This means you can order an Uber by barking at your phone, for example, or get the digital assistant to fire up Spotify playlists. 

The iMessage app has had a huge overhaul to become more interactive and media-heavy, so you can do things like send animated wallpapers and draw images.

3D Touch on the lock screen will allow you to open and interact with apps via notifications without having to actually open the app in question. The phone will use the fingerprint scanner to ensure that it's you.

Another nice touch is Rise to Wake, which will show the time and any on-screen notifications simply by lifting the phone, rather than having to press the home button, which can often unlock the phone by accident. 

However, this is compatible only with the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and SE, along with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Notifications will show more information on the lock screen, potentially removing the need to open them to find out more.

Also, you'll be able to remove stock apps on iOS for the first time, which will no doubt be welcome news to many.

Once it's available, you'll be able to install iOS 10 by heading to Settings > General > Software Update.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Sep 2016

Three very different organisations, three success stories

Woman shopping on smartphone

Mobile is most definitely where it's at. New data and insights from three very different organisations - Gumtree, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Littlewoods.com owner Shop Direct - have shown that focusing on mobile is vital to digital success.

Shop Direct, which also owns Very.co.uk, reported a huge rise in revenue to £1.86bn since ditching its paper catalogue to become a web-only retailer.

And, even better for shareholders, profits have risen 43 per cent to £150.4m. Mobile has been core to this success, as sales from mobile browsers and the firm's iOS and Android apps rose 46 per cent year on year.

Meanwhile, Gumtree has just revealed that it now has 15 million mobile visitors a week, almost twice as many as on the desktop. This is a huge number, and shows that, for the majority, the mobile is the computing platform of choice.

Gumtree general manager Morten Heuing said: “Mobile in particular is of huge importance to us, which is why we are investing heavily in the product and user experience."

This success hasn't come by accident. Gumtree told V3 in 2014 about its shift to HTML5 to provide a completely responsive experience for visitors on any device.

The need to update the mobile experience was also on the radar at the RSC, which told V3 last week about a two-year project to completely rebuild the company's websites to enable a better mobile experience, particularly as so many tickets are booked in this way.

“The previous RSC website was good and handled a lot of ticket bookings, but it was starting to look dated. It wasn’t responsive and didn’t allow personalisation, so it needed updating,” said Richard Adams, the contractor who oversaw the project.

Since changing the firm is now much better able to take bookings and provide information to visitors, and to gather more insights on how customers use the site to refine the information it presents.

No doubt there are other organisations out there with similar tales to tell, and if these are the firms that got it right early and are now reaping the benefits, there are likely to be many more on this path that will make similar noises in six, nine or 12 months' time.

Even the government is getting involved. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency revealed recently that it is working on a digital version of the driving licence that could be stored in the Apple Wallet app.

Clearly, the time to act is now, and any organisation still in the planning stages, or debating whether to push more money into mobile apps, or updating websites to be responsive, risks being left behind.

The market moves quickly and it does not take long for a firm to fall by the wayside if it can't provide what people want. The experiences of Nokia and BlackBerry, once leaders in the mobile market itself, are testament to that.

So it's no surprise that the celebration is short lived for the firms seeing mobile success, and the focus now is on the next set of digital technology trends such as big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

Indeed, Shop Direct CEO Alex Baldock explained that the firm is already investing heavily in these areas.

“We’ve made big strides in m-commerce, big data and personalisation. But there’s a lot more to play for in these areas," he said.

"In particular, we believe that AI can change the game for us in data and personalisation. We’re deploying it already and are serious about going much further."

Big data, machine learning, AI. It's shopping, but not as we know it.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Sep 2016

Like it or not, the iPhone 7 won't have a headphone jack.

There are lots of extremely cynical theories over why this might be, not least because driving demand for Lightning-based headphones would be a very good thing for Beats, an Apple subsidiary. 

Regardless, Apple insists that removing the headphone jack was an act of "courage;" a bold willingness to sacrifice the comfortably familiar and push us toward the wireless-headphone future. Plus, ditching the classic 3.5 mm jack apparently makes room for bigger batteries and better cameras inside the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

So let's take Apple at face value here. Apple's move toward wireless headphones is a super-important signal of how it's looking at the next wave of technology — and hints at the next wave of computing to come.

But first, it's in Apple's best interests (and maybe your own) that they teach you to never take your headphones off, ever.

AirPods are the key

The keys to the whole affair are Apple's new $159 AirPod wireless headphones. Technically, they're standard Bluetooth earbuds/microphones, so they'll work with any old Windows PC, Android phone, or Blackberry you may have lying around.

But the real magic of the AirPods come when you use them with a Mac, iPhone, or iPad: Thanks to Apple's proprietary W1 chip, the AirPods smoothly and seamlessly pair with any iPhone or iPad in range, provided they're running iOS 10. When the new macOS Sierra comes out later this September, it'll work with that, too.

apple iPhone 7 pairing airpodPairing the AirPods with an iPhone is as simple as opening their charger case.Steve Kovach/Business Insider

 

Most importantly of all, the AirPods lack any kind of physical buttons whatsoever. The only control on the AirPods, at all, is a touch sensor that activates Siri, Apple's voice assistant. 

It's that one-touch access to Siri that best showcases Apple's ambitions for the AirPods, for Siri, and for how people should be using computers.

Siri is everything

Apple has spent a lot of time and energy making sure people know that next week's iOS 10 update comes with some big upgrades to Siri, including the ability to access and use other apps. In other words, you'll be able to use Siri to send money with Square Cash or reply to a WhatsApp message, as well as control your Apple HomeKit-compatible smart appliances, all with your voice.

From there, it's a natural progression: The AirPods make it easier than ever to use Siri.

Siri lets you use your apps without taking your phone out of your pocket or checking your Apple Watch. So, ideally, you'll keep your EarPods in even when you're not listening to music.

siri in ios 10 wwdc 2016An Apple promo for what Siri will be able to do in iOS 10.Apple

 

Since they don't have wires, AirPods are way less obtrusive than your usual headphones. And because they sync with all your Apple gadgets, it means that same one-touch access to Siri can follow you from phone to tablet to laptop. Siri's on the Apple TV, too, so it seems reasonable that it'll get AirPod syncing one day.

This has a big business benefit for Apple, since it means you need at least an iPhone to take full advantage: Without access to Siri, the EarPods are just Bluetooth headphones. It's an important driver to keep people in the Apple product family as the smartphone boom grinds to a halt.

But it's also a tantalizing glimpse at the possibilities of using Siri to spend less time staring at a screen and more time living your life.

Our science-fictional future

That increased reliance on Siri is Apple's short- to medium-term vision. In the long-term, though, Apple can get really weird with it, in some exciting ways. Slate's Will Oremus recently referred to the AirPods as "Apple's first ear computers."

From the earliest days of the PC, all the way through the modern smartphone, computing has usually relied on some kind of display, whether that's a TV, monitor, watch face, or touchscreen, plus some kind of keyboard, physical or virtual.

It's been great, and it works, but the fact remains that the most natural way humans pass information to each other is by sound, speech, and music. And as we've seen from the sleeper success of gadgets like the Amazon Echo, there's a real demand for tools that can deliver information just by talking to you — especially among nontechnical people.

doppler female heroThe Doppler Labs Here One earbuds can customize the sound of the world around you.Doppler

 

Meanwhile, startups like Doppler Labs are doing cool, innovative work with its earbuds, not yet released, which can actually customize the sonic landscape around you, from increasing the bass at a concert to quieting the sounds of a crying baby on an airplane. 

Looking forward, as AirPods and the wireless headphones they inspire mature and evolve, it's not hard to imagine a new kind of App Store for audio apps — apps that use the iPhone's intelligence to make the people around you sound like the parents from "Peanuts," maybe, or more active ones that let you rewind the last 30 seconds of a conversation.

Barriers ahead

There are some roadblocks ahead, if Apple really wants the AirPods to spark a revolution.

First, as analyst Ben Thompson rightly notes in a recent post to his Stratechery blog, the iPhone is great, but "Apple's user experience advantages are still the greatest when it comes to physically interacting with your device," and "the weakest when it comes to service dependent interactions like Siri."

In other words, Apple's Siri still has a long way to go before people start to truly rely on her to get stuff done.

apple airpodsApple AirPods work with all Apple devices.Apple

 

Second, the technology needs to get a lot better.

Apple claims that the AirPods, in their current incarnation, get five hours of charge. That's pretty good for teeny-tiny earbuds, but not great in a future where Apple wants to make them indispensable accessories for everyday living. That's going to make this wireless future an even tougher sell, beyond the price and beyond the lack of a traditional headphone jack on the iPhone 7.

For now, though, there's one big problem that Apple can solve, and that's teaching you to keep your headphones in all the time. Once that's done, the rest can start to fall into place.

 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Sep 2016

The first step in Sage’s mission to transform 50 Accounts … 

Driven by customer feedback, every improvement Sage has made to 50 Accounts v23 has been made with you in mind. Letting you work faster, smarter and more efficiently than ever before.  The new improvements are the result of using feedback from over 3,000 customers.

The improvements Sage has built into this release have been both requested and voted on by customers using the Sage 50 Roadmap. Sage customers have been heavily involved in the design and build, giving Sage fantastic feedback about the value the improvements will deliver. 

User Requests

Enhancements

Show negative items on sales invoices

More flexible invoices

Quickly & easily enter negative lines on invoices.

Great when you want to show discounts you’ve given to customers.

Full transactional detail in

most used screens

See every detail

See full transaction details within customer, supplier, bank and activity nominal screens. No navigating to financials to see details you need.

Enter invoices and

payments together

Auto double entry

When entering batch invoices, you’ll be able to enter payments on the same line. This removes the need to navigate to Bank in order to enter payments for invoices you’ve just processed.

Flexible due dates on invoices

Control your cash flow

When using invoices, you’ll be able to over-write the invoice due date as needed – or set automatic calculations. The due date will be surfaced in lists and reports – giving you even more visibility.

 

 

 Plus

Sage has also improved things ‘under the hood’ to make Sage 50 Accounts faster and more efficient for you to use. Also improved Automatic Backup options now mean you can choose to back up to a cloud location.

Source: uniqsystems.co.uk
 
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