Liveblog: Apple unveils its TV service and more at the March 25 “It’s show time” event


This post is by Samuel Axon from Ars Technica


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The event invite strongly hints at the upcoming video service.

Enlarge / The event invite strongly hints at the upcoming video service. (credit: Apple)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—At 10am Pacific on Monday, March 25, Apple and its partners will take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., to talk about a new TV-streaming platform, a new magazine-subscription service, and possibly much more. We’ll be liveblogging the event as it happens, so join us here a few minutes before the show for all the updates.

Apple has been signaling to investors, partners, and customers for many months that it will increase its focus on services—always-available, ever-growing content and software offerings—more in the future, as that is the part of its business it expects to grow the fastest. Monday’s “It’s show time” event will be unusual in that it is expected to focus more on those services than any prior Apple event.

Some hardware announcements were strong possibilities

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Mini-review: Fitbit sticks to the bare necessities in the $159 Versa Lite


This post is by Valentina Palladino from Ars Technica


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Mini-review: Fitbit sticks to the bare necessities in the $159 Versa Lite

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

The Versa Lite confused me at first. When Fitbit announced the new Inspire and Inspire HR fitness trackers, the company also debuted the new Versa Lite. This smartwatch looks identical to the original Versa, which came out last year, but it lacks a few features and costs $40 less. Considering the Versa was meant to be a cheaper, more accessible version of the $300 Fitbit Ionic, it was strange to see Fitbit come up with an even more affordable version of its already affordable smartwatch.

But Fitbit is positioning itself as the company with smartwatches for all kinds of people. Instead of making one flagship device with a bunch of features like Apple has done with the Apple Watch, Fitbit is investing in numerous devices with different feature sets at various price points. Now, the Versa family has three devices: the $159 Versa Lite, the

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HMD admits the Nokia 7 Plus was sending personal data to China


This post is by Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica


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The Nokia 7 Plus.

Enlarge / The Nokia 7 Plus.

HMD is in hot water following a report from Norwegian site NRKbeta, which found that HMD’s Nokia 7 Plus was sending users’ personal information to a server in China. HMD responded to the report, admitting, “Our device activation client meant for another country was mistakenly included in the software package of a single batch of Nokia 7 Plus.”

NRKbeta’s investigation found the Nokia 7 Plus was sending the IMEI, MAC ID, and the SIM ICCID, all of which are unique hardware or SIM card identifiers that could be used to track an individual. There was also rough location information, as the device sent the ID of the nearest cell tower. NRKbeta’s article is in Norwegian, but through Google Translate the site claims this data was sent every time the phone was switched on and that the phone was sending this data for

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Clippy briefly resurrected as Teams add-on, brutally taken down by brand police


This post is by Peter Bright from Ars Technica


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Clippy briefly resurrected as Teams add-on, brutally taken down by brand police

Enlarge (credit: theaelix)

On Microsoft’s official Office GitHub repository (which contains, alas, not the source code to Office itself but lots of developer content for software that extends Office), the widely loved (?) Clippy made a brief appearance with the publication of a Clippy sticker pack for Microsoft Teams. Teams users could import the stickers and use them to add pictures of a talking paperclip to their conversations.

The synergy between the two seems obvious. With its various machine learning-powered services and its bot development framework, Microsoft finally has the technology to make Clippy the assistant we always wanted him to be: a Clippy that can be asked natural language questions, that we can actually speak to and that can talk back to us, that can recognize us by sight and greet us as we sit down to the working day. Teams, an interface that’s conversational and text

The Clippy sticker pack in Teams.

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Windows Virtual Desktop now in public preview


This post is by Peter Bright from Ars Technica


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A VT100 remote terminal, which is basically the same thing as Windows Remote Desktop.

Enlarge / A VT100 remote terminal, which is basically the same thing as Windows Remote Desktop. (credit: Wolfgang Stief)

Initially announced last September, Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service has now entered public preview.

The service brings together single-user Windows 7 virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and multi-user Windows 10 and Windows Server remote desktop services (RDS) and is hosted on any of Azure’s virtual machine tiers. Microsoft is pricing WVD aggressively by charging only for the virtual machine costs; the license requirements for the Windows 7- and Windows 10-based services will be fulfilled by Microsoft 365 F1/E3/E, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5, and Windows VDA subscriptions. The Windows Server-based services are similarly fulfilled by existing RDS client access licenses. This means that for many Microsoft customers, there will be no additional licensing cost for provisioning desktop computing in the cloud. The virtual machine costs can be further reduced by

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Microsoft ships antivirus for macOS as Windows Defender becomes Microsoft Defender


This post is by Peter Bright from Ars Technica


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Microsoft is bringing its Windows Defender anti-malware application to macOS—and more platforms in the future—as it expands the reach of its Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) platform. To reflect the new cross-platform nature, the suite is also being renamed to Microsoft Defender ATP, with the individual clients being labelled “for Mac” or “for Windows.”

Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac will initially focus on traditional signature-based malware scanning.

Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac will initially focus on traditional signature-based malware scanning.

macOS malware is still something of a rarity, but it’s not completely unheard of. Ransomware for the platform was found in 2016, and in-the-wild outbreaks of other malicious software continue to be found. Apple has integrated some malware protection into macOS, but we’ve heard from developers on the platform that Mac users aren’t always very good at keeping their systems on the latest point release. This situation is particularly acute in corporate environments; while Windows has a range of tools to

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Windows 10 version 1903 heads for the finish line


This post is by Peter Bright from Ars Technica


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Who doesn't love some new Windows?

Enlarge / Who doesn’t love some new Windows? (credit: Peter Bright / Flickr)

It’s clear that Microsoft is in the very final stages of development of Windows 10 version 1903, the April 2019 Update. The fast distribution ring has seen two builds arrive this week after two last week, bringing with them no new features but a slowly whittled-down bug list following the development pattern we’ve seen in previous updates. In the past, the company has tried to release Windows 10 feature upgrades on Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of each month, meaning there’s just under three weeks left to go.

A little alarmingly, a couple of long-standing issues with the release still appear to be unresolved. A green-screen-of-death error caused when games with BattlEye anti-cheat software are used has been a feature of the 1903 previews for many months, and Microsoft is still listing it as unresolved.

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More mid-range Google Pixel rumors include updated specs, OLED display


This post is by Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica


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It’s amazing that, despite originally hitting the rumor mill almost a full year ago and putting out pictures four months ago, Google’s mid-range Pixel phone is still the subject of rumors. The latest report comes from 9to5Google, which has a new round of specs.

Just like with the flagship lineup, there are two phone sizes in Google’s supposedly-launching-someday mid-range lineup. What exactly these devices will be called is still up in the air. These devices have had the codename “Bonito” and “Sargo,” and the rumor mill has referred to the consumer names as “Pixel 3 Lite” and “Pixel 3 XL Lite” in the past. As discovered by XDA, though, the recent Android Q Beta is calling Bonito and Sargo the “Pixel 3a” and “Pixel 3a XL.” The names are not quite as bad as “LG V50 ThinQ 5G.” But

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Guidemaster: The best Windows ultrabooks you can buy right now


This post is by Valentina Palladino from Ars Technica


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Guidemaster: The best Windows ultrabooks you can buy right now

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Buyers looking for premium Windows laptops today have plenty of choices; every few months sees some splashy launch of a new high-end PC. Ultrabooks have become the standard design for most premium Windows laptops, and they represent the best of what companies like Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft have to offer in terms of design, power, and innovation.

If you’re looking for a thin-and-light laptop that’s still powerful enough to handle work and play with ease—and doesn’t run macOS—a Windows ultrabook is what you want. But not all ultrabooks are created equal. That’s why Ars has tested some of the most popular Windows laptops to see which are worthy for consideration as your next high-end notebook.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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D3D raytracing no longer exclusive to 2080, as Nvidia brings it to GeForce 10, 16


This post is by Peter Bright from Ars Technica


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A screenshot of <em>Metro Exodus</em> with raytracing enabled.

Enlarge / A screenshot of Metro Exodus with raytracing enabled. (credit: Nvidia)

Microsoft announced DirectX raytracing a year ago, promising to bring hardware-accelerated raytraced graphics to PC gaming. In August, Nvidia announced its RTX 2080 and 2080Ti, a pair of new video cards with the company’s new Turing RTX processors. In addition to the regular graphics-processing hardware, these new chips included two extra sets of additional cores, one set designed for running machine-learning algorithms and the other for computing raytraced graphics. These cards were the first, and currently only, cards to support DirectX Raytracing (DXR).

That’s going to change in April, as Nvidia has announced that 10-series and 16-series cards will be getting some amount of raytracing support with next month’s driver update. Specifically, we’re talking about 10-series cards built with Pascal chips (that’s the 1060 6GB or higher), Titan-branded cards with Pascal or Volta chips (the Titan

The GTX 1060 6GB and above should start supporting DXR with next month's Nvidia driver update.

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Google jumps into gaming with Google Stadia streaming service, coming “in 2019”


This post is by Kyle Orland from Ars Technica


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The Google Stadia controller, which includes a few custom buttons. The service will also support wired USB controllers and mouse-and-keyboard controls.

Enlarge / The Google Stadia controller, which includes a few custom buttons. The service will also support wired USB controllers and mouse-and-keyboard controls.

SAN FRANCISCO—At the Game Developers Conference, Google announced its biggest play yet in the gaming space: a streaming game service named Google Stadia, designed to run on everything from PCs and Android phones to Google’s own Chromecast devices.

As of press time, the service’s release window is simply “2019.” No pricing information was announced at the event.

Google Stadia will run a selection of existing PC games on Google’s centralized servers, taking in controller inputs and sending back video and audio using Google’s network of low latency data centers. The company revealed a new Google-produced controller, along with a game-streaming interface that revolves around a “play now” button. Press this on any web browser, and gameplay will begin “in as quick as five seconds… with no

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HP goes pro with its newest VR headset


This post is by Peter Bright from Ars Technica


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HP goes pro with its newest VR headset

Enlarge (credit: HP)

HP was one of the many companies that built a VR headset for the Windows Mixed Reality platform which launched back in 2017. Microsoft provided a SteamVR-compatible software platform, controller design, and inside-out, six-axis, positional-tracking technology; hardware companies like HP provided the rest, greatly reducing the price of PC-attached virtual reality.

Today, HP is launching the Reverb Virtual Reality Headset Professional Edition. As the name might imply, the audience for this isn’t the consumer space; it’s the commercial space. The headset will have a near-identical consumer version, but HP’s focus is very much on the pro unit, because that’s where the company has seen the most solid uptake of VR tech. The big VR win isn’t gaming or any other consumer applications: it’s visualization, for fields such as engineering, architecture, and education, and entertainment, combining VR headsets with motion-actuated seating to build virtual rides. The company has

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Apple finally updates the iMac with significantly more powerful CPU and GPU options


This post is by Samuel Axon from Ars Technica


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Today, Apple will finally begin taking orders for newly refreshed 21- and 27-inch iMacs. The new versions don’t change the basic design or add major new features, but they offer substantially faster configuration options for the CPU and GPU.

The 21.5-inch iMac now has a 6-core, eighth-generation Intel CPU option—up from a maximum of four cores before. The 27-inch now has six cores as the standard configuration, with an optional upgrade to a 3.6GHz, 9th-gen, 8-core Intel Core i9 CPU that Apple claims will double performance over the previous 27-inch iMac. The base 27-inch model has a 3GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 CPU, with intermediate configurations at 3.1GHz and 3.7GHz (both Core i5).

The big news is arguably that both sizes now offer high-end, workstation-class Vega-graphics options

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LG’s latest, greatest OLED TVs will start shipping in April


This post is by Samuel Axon from Ars Technica


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




LG has announced the US release schedule and pricing for most of its 2019 OLED televisions. The first models will begin shipping next month, with some confirmed to ship through May and June.

The 55- and 65-inch C-series will ship in April for $2,500 and $3,500, respectively. A 77-inch variant will come a month later in May for $7,000. The E-series will see a staggered launch: the $4,300, 65-inch model will ship in April, but the $3,300, 55-inch will curiously ship a month later in May. Finally, there’s the high-end W-series. Those TVs will ship in June, for either $7,000 for a 65-inch model or a whopping $13,000 for 77 inches.

LG’s announcement didn’t specify a release date for the

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Google Project Zero, Microsoft collaborate for 12 months to find new kind of Windows bug


This post is by Peter Bright from Ars Technica


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Google Project Zero, Microsoft collaborate for 12 months to find new kind of Windows bug

Enlarge (credit: Marco Verch / Flickr)

One of the more notable features of Google Project Zero’s (GPZ) security research has been its 90-day disclosure policy. In general, vendors are given 90 days to address issues found by GPZ, after which the flaws will be publicly disclosed. But sometimes understanding a flaw and developing fixes for it takes longer than 90 days—sometimes, much longer, such as when a new class of vulnerability is found. That’s what happened last year with the Spectre and Meltdown processor issues, and it’s happened again with a new Windows issue.

Google researcher James Forshaw first grasped that there might be a problem a couple of years ago when he was investigating the exploitability of another Windows issue published three years ago. In so doing, he discovered the complicated way in which Windows performs permissions checks when opening files or other secured objects. A closer

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Apple Watch accurately spotted heart condition 34% of the time in study


This post is by Beth Mole from Ars Technica


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(credit: Apple)

In a large Apple-sponsored study assessing whether the pulse sensor on older versions of the Apple Watch (Series 1, 2, and 3) can pick up heart rhythm irregularities, researchers found that only 34 percent of participants who received an alert of an irregular pulse on their watch went on to have a confirmed case of atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heart rhythm.

The study was led by researchers at Stanford, who presented the results Saturday in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. The results have not been published in a scientific journal and have not been peer-reviewed.

The study, dubbed the Apple Heart Study, began in November 2017, before the release of the Apple Watch Series 4, which includes an electrocardiograph (ECG) feature for monitoring heart activity. Though the study didn’t keep pace with that of

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Apple updates $499 iPad Air, $399 iPad mini ahead of services event next week


This post is by Valentina Palladino from Ars Technica


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Apple updates $499 iPad Air, $399 iPad mini ahead of services event next week

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

We’re one week out from Apple’s services-focused event in Cupertino, and the company just announced a pair of devices we’ve been expecting for quite some time. Apple debuted a new, $499 10.5-inch iPad Air and a new, $399 7.9-inch iPad mini today. Both have familiar designs but also have the company’s new A12 Bionic chip.

The new iPad Air looks like previous models, with thicker bezels on the top and bottom of the advanced Retina display (now with True Tone technology) to house the camera array and the physical Home button. While both new iPads have updated cameras that can better handle low-light situations and immersive AR experiences, they appear to omit FaceID entirely.

Inside the iPad Air is the new A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s neural engine, and the company claims it will make the new Air 70 percent faster than previous versions

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Hands-on: What’s new in Android Q


This post is by Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica


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The Android Q logo. It's also a "10," for "Android 10."

Enlarge / The Android Q logo. It’s also a “10,” for “Android 10.”

The Android Q beta is now live, and after playing “spot the differences,” we’re here to report our findings. For this first preview release, Android Q is mostly a lot of small tweaks for users and new APIs for developers.

A lot of things are half-implemented, inconsistent, or broken, but this is just a beta. Hopefully everything will get fixed in the future, but we’ll still point out problems in this release. Compared to the leaked builds of Android Q that came out before this release, there are actually fewer features here in some cases. Google is holding out on us.

First up, let’s talk about that logo. That “Q” looks funny doesn’t it? That’s because it’s also a “10”—the circle of the Q is a zero and the tail is a one. The previous version

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Any Steam game can now use Valve’s low-latency, DoS-proofed networking


This post is by Peter Bright from Ars Technica


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Any Steam game can now use Valve’s low-latency, DoS-proofed networking

Enlarge (credit: massmatt)

Valve is opening up its latency-reducing, DoS-protecting network relay infrastructure to every developer using its Steamworks platform.

A few years ago, large-scale denial-of-service attacks against game servers were making the news and becoming a frustratingly frequent occurrence in online gaming and e-sports. To protect its own games, Valve has for a number of years been working on developing a networking infrastructure that makes the system more resilient against denial-of-service attacks and lower latency to boot, and the company is using this system for both Dota 2 and CS:GO.

At 30 different locations around the world, Valve has established relaying servers that route networking traffic between clients and servers. These relay points provide DoS-resilience in several ways. They’re equipped with an aggregate of several terabits of bandwidth, so they can handle a certain amount of flooding in any case. Games can also switch from one relay to

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Everything you need to know before Apple’s March 25 “it’s show time” event


This post is by Samuel Axon from Ars Technica


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People cluster outside a futuristic glass-and-steel building.

Enlarge / The Steve Jobs auditorium on Apple’s new campus.

Update: Tomorrow, March 25, Apple will hold its first public event of 2019 at 1pm ET (10am PT). And press invitations, rumors, and prior evidence indicate this event could hold an unprecedented announcement for the company: its long-anticipated streaming content business. Ars will be on site Monday to find out and liveblog all of it, but for now we’re resurfacing our rundown of what to expect from Apple this week and what surprises may be in store. This story originally ran on March 15, 2019 and appears unchanged below.

On March 25, Apple executives and partners will take to the stage in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s Cupertino campus to talk about subscriptions, software, services, entertainment, and media. These are all things Apple has dealt with before, but never before has an event focused so completely on

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