Is Apple Logging Your iMessage Contacts and Sharing Them With the Police?

Is Apple Logging Your iMessage Contacts and Sharing Them With Law Enforcement Authorities?Apple has talked up privacy and end-to-end encryption of iMessage conversations, but a new report suggests that Apple may be logging and potentially sharing information like phone numbers of people that you iMessage with law enforcement agencies.

A report in The Intercept goes into the technical details of what happens every time a user types a number into an iPhone for a text conversation. According to the publication, the Messages app “contacts Apple servers to determine whether to route a given message over the ubiquitous SMS system or over Apple’s proprietary and more secure messaging network”. This determination results in the green-coloured conversations for SMS and blue-coloured for iMessage chats, which should be familiar to every iPhone user by now.

The accusation made by the publication is that Apple logs and stores each of these queries for X days, with the date & time stamp as well as the IP address, which the publication claims can be used to identify a user’s location. The Intercept acquired this document as part of a large chunk of documents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Electronic Surveillance Support Team. Although the contents of iMessages sent over Apple’s servers are encrypted end-to-end, thereby making them unreadable even to Apple, the metadata mentioned above could be used to connect dots during a criminal investigation.

Apple is known for its strong stance towards customer privacy in recent times, including denying the FBI’s request to unlock an iPhone of one of the two accused in the San Bernardino shootings in the US. So does the report suggest that Apple is not playing by the high standards it has set for itself?

9to5Mac.com’s Jordan Kahn points out that Apple has openly admitted in the past to the alleged accusations. It is mentioned several times in Apple’s legal page on their website, that Apple does log this information. The company says, “When you use your device, your phone number and certain unique identifiers for your iOS Device are sent to Apple in order to allow others to reach you by your phone number when using various communication features of the iOS Software, such as iMessage and FaceTime.”
Furthermore, “Apple has FaceTime call invitation logs when a FaceTime call invitation is initiated. These logs do not indicate that any communication between users actually took place.”

The same page also suggests that if a device is running iOS 8 or above, Apple will not be able to extract any information, as the data is protected by an encryption key tied to the product’s passcode. At this point, only 3 percent of devices run a version older than iOS 8, according to Apple’s Developer page. Apple admits it will be able to extract data on products running versions prior to iOS 8, including SMS, iMessage, MMS, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and call history.

Apple also suggest that upon a search warrant, it may be able to provide iCloud content including photos, documents, contacts, calendars, bookmarks and iOS device backups which contain iMessage, SMS, and MMS messages and voicemail to the authorities.

Lastly, The Intercept’s claim of Apple storing a user’s location was debunked by 9to5Mac, suggesting that IP addresses don’t “offer exact location or even always accurate location data that could allow law enforcement or anyone else to pinpoint your location.”

Meizu MX6 Gets a New Variant Sporting 3GB of RAM

Meizu MX6 Gets a New Variant Sporting 3GB of RAM
The original 4GB of RAM model was launched in July
The 3GB of RAM model is priced at CNY 1,799
The 4GB of RAM model is priced at CNY 1,999
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu has released a new variant of its MX6 smartphone in China. While the model launched in July sported 4GB of RAM, the company on Wednesday launched a cheaper model with 3GB of RAM. The new variant will go on sale from Saturday in the country with a price tag of CNY 1,799 (roughly Rs. 18,100).

To recall, the Meizu MX6 with 4GB of RAM was launched at CNY 1,999 (roughly Rs. 20,100). The launch of the new variant in China was first reported by GizmoChina. The dual-SIM smartphone runs Flyme OS 5.5 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It sports a 5.5-inch (1080×1920 pixels) LCD display and the company claimed that it sports a colour gamut (NTSC) of 85 percent. It is powered by a 2.3GHz deca-core MediaTek Helio X20 processor paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt storage.

 

The smartphone also sports fingerprint scanner on the home button which the Chinese company claimed can unlock the smartphone in just 0.2 seconds and can also be used for biometric payments carried over via Alipay.
It supports dual-SIM cards and sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.0 aperture, dual tone LED flash, PDAF (phase detection autofocus), and also supports 4K video recording. The Meizu MX6 also sports a 5-megapixel front camera with f/2.0 aperture.

The handset supports 4G LTE with VoLTE compatibility. Other connectivity options are Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, 3.5mm audio jack, and also come with USB Type-C port. The Meizu MX6 is backed by a 3060mAh battery with fast charging support. The Chinese company claims the MX6 with its fast charging (mCharge) technology can get up to 65 percent charge in just 30 minutes of charging. It measures 153.6×75.2×7.2mm and weighs 155 grams.

Meizu MX6 Meizu MX6
KEY SPECS
NEWS
Display
5.50-inch
Processor
2.3GHz
Front Camera
5-megapixel
Resolution
1080×1920 pixels
RAM
3GB
OS
Android 6.0
Storage
32GB
Rear Camera
12-megapixel
Battery capacity
3060mAh

EA Explains FIFA 17 Player Ratings

EA Explains FIFA 17 Player Ratings
FIFA 17’s player ratings are determined by 9,000 data reviewers
These include coaches, scouts, and season ticket holders
The league a player is in also determines his rating
FIFA 17 might not have had the warmest of critical receptions but that rarely dampens the series’ commercial success.

This year appears to be no different what with retailers selling copies early. One hot topic of discussion around EA Sports’ footie franchise is how player ratings are calculated. How does the company judge and rank players, giving them a number to represent their skills, abilities, and intelligence among other attributes?

 

According to EA Sports producer Michael Mueller-Moehring it begins with some guesswork.

“We guess a little bit … until our people have seen the player in action,” Mueller-Moehring said to ESPN.

This is followed by 9,000 data reviewers – a group consisting of professional scouts, coaches, and season ticket holders, chiming in. They watch matches in person for most part and provide feedback on players through a secure website.

It’s a subjective take on each player, of which 18,000 are in action. The reason for this approach is because the statistics EA needs doesn’t exist.

 
“We have many leagues in the game; no stats provider could offer us data for all these leagues, teams and players,” Mueller-Moehring said. “This is also the reason why we use this online database, because it’s not possible to buy this data some way — it just doesn’t exist.”

Furthermore, the numbers tell only half the story. Mueller-Moehring stresses on the context of how these numbers come to be.

“The stats are, in most cases, not taking into account very specific circumstances,” he says. “When you look at passing completion, if you play for Bayern Munich or if you play for Manchester City or if you play for Pep Guardiola, if your system is based on possession, you will have more successful passes than other players, but this doesn’t necessarily make you a better passer.

“And when you look at attributes like trapping and ball control, there is data, but the data never gives you the specific situations. Same for tackling.”

(Also see: FIFA 17 Street Date Broken in the UAE; India Release Soon)

Also of importance is the league a player is in.

“If Messi were playing in the Irish league, his attributes would drop simply because he’s not on the highest level anymore,” he said. “We want to base our ratings on actual performance data.”

FIFA 17 is out officially in India on September 29, although it’s been readily available for the last couple of days at brick and mortar stores across the country via parallel imports.

Nintendo to End Wii U Production. Possible Nintendo NX Release Date Soon?

Nintendo to End Wii U Production. Possible Nintendo NX Release Date Soon?

  • UK retailers are being asked to put their final orders in for the Wii U
  • This could see the Nintendo NX release date soon
  • The NX was announced 18 months ago and has not been revealed yet

It appears that the Wii U, Nintendo’s current generation home console is closer to its end than anticipated. Retailers in the UK are being asked by Nintendo to put their final orders in for it.

“Nintendo is now taking final orders on Wii U consoles. Those that haven’t ordered by the end of next week (Friday September 30) will not be able to order the Wii U again from Nintendo,” a post on UK retailer Gameseek reads. “Is this Nintendo’s last roll of the dice with the Wii U so they can plan to give retailers details about the new hardware next month? Is something exciting due to be announced in October?”

(Also see: Nintendo Acknowledges Mistakes With Wii U Launch, Looks to Do Better Job With NX)

This follows rumours of the NX already undergoing trial production at Foxconn’s manufacturing facilities.

Although Nintendo hasn’t officially announced its new console, codenamed NX, that hasn’t stopped its partners and developers from providing a steady stream of information on what to expect. Earlier in the week The Pokemon Company’s CEO confirmed it would be a home console and handheld hybrid while prior to this, reports have indicated it would use cartridges.

 

Prior to this, it was reported by Japanese newspaper The Nikkei that Nintendo will stop producing its Wii U console this year. As per a translation by Japanese game consultant Serkan Toto:

“The Nikkei just reports Nintendo will stop producing Wii U within 2016. It doesn’t say they will necessarily start selling NX in 2016,” Toto tweeted.

This was followed by a second tweet that said according to the Japanese daily “some Wii U accessories are already not being produced anymore. Nintendo plans to deplete inventory this year.”

While the newspaper claims that Nintendo may not sell its next console, the Nintendo NX this year, the depletion of inventory indicates that the Wii U is most definitely on its way out. And it also points to the inevitable announcement regarding the NX sooner rather than later. Nintendo refuted this a day later, not the first time the company has denied claims that inevitably rang true as we’re seeing right now.

 

Street Fighter V PC Update Installs Hidden Rootkit, Makes PCs Vulnerable to Malware

Street Fighter V PC Update Installs Hidden Rootkit, Makes PCs Vulnerable to Malware
Street Fighter V’s latest update adds new content
It also makes PCs vulnerable to malware
Capcom has now rolled back the update
Fighting game Street Fighter V received an update allowing you to, among other things, hone your skills against the CPU and try out Urien – a character that first appeared in Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact. It also put PCs at risk of malware by installing a rootkit which gives any installed app kernel-level privileges.

What this means is, any malicious software on a PC can manipulate Street Fighter V into taking complete control of it. Capcom claims the update prevents players from cheating but it is so poorly implemented that it leaves your entire system at risk.

(Also see: How Capcom Is Making Street Fighter V for Newbies and Hardcore Fans Alike)

Nonetheless, Capcom has already pulled this update all while letting fans keep the aforementioned content. A speedy response, warranted given the nature of the issue at hand.

“The rollback to the PC version of SFV prior to the security measure update is now live. The new September content is included,” the company tweeted.

(Also see: What’s Street Fighter V’s Bollywood Connection?)

We found Street Fighter V to be a poor successor to Street Fighter IV. Barebones content, inconsistent online performance, and a dependency on being always online did Street Fighter V no favours and updates meant to bolster the game launched in such a fashion just make things worse. Although, it does sport a rather interesting Bollywood-inspired easter egg.

Are you still playing Street Fighter V or has your attention turned to other fighting games? Let us know in the comments.

Honeywell’s Electronic Essentials Accessories Launched in India

Honeywell's Electronic Essentials Accessories Launched in India

Global consumer electronics major Honeywell on Thursday launched its electronic essentials range in India that includes products like surge protectors, cables, car chargers and adapters. The company is launching the products in collaboration with distributor Secure Connection.

All the products are offered with a three-year warranty and an easy replacement policy.

Starting at Rs. 339, the product range will be available for sale from September 22 across the country, the company said in a statement.

“Everybody wants better connectivity and operability for their gadgets on-the-go, so this launch will expand Honeywell’s presence in the consumer market in India. We’re excited about this licensing partnership because it will put a Honeywell Electronic Essentials product in every consumer’s pocket,” said Vikas Chadha, President, Honeywell India.

“We aspire to be the most trusted go-to brand for electronic essentials. We are excited to launch our new line of Honeywell Electronic Essentials, which will provide consumers a rich and seamless connected experience with their electronics,” added Mohit Anand, CEO, Secure Connection.

“Today, four screens dominate people’s digital lives – the smartphone, the television, the PC/laptop, and the tablet. Our range of products will help consumers derive a much more meaningful and deeper experience out of their core device or screen, regardless of whether they are home, at work, or on the go,” he added.

 

Chrome OS Stable Finally Gets Google Play Access With Latest Update

Chrome OS Stable Finally Gets Google Play Access With Latest Update

  • Google Play makes way to stable channel of Chrome OS 53 with update
  • Google Play needs to be enabled manually from Chrome Settings
  • Google Play is available on three devices as of now

Google brought Chrome OS 53 to a stable channel (v53.0.2785.103) earlier this month but did not bring the much anticipated Android apps support along with the release. Now the search giant has brought the beta version of Google Play to Chrome OS 53 with an update to stable channel version 53.0.2785.129.

On its release page, the company confirmed the latest stable channel release was meant only for the Acer Chromebook R11 and Asus Chromebook Flip right now, and detailed availability of the Google Play app in beta. The Chromebook Pixel (2015) was not listed, which raised some eyebrows, as it was these three laptops that had support for Android apps and Google Play in the beta channel.

Speaking to Venture Beat however, a Google spokesperson indicated the Chromebook Pixel (2015) will also get the update soon, “A beta release of the Play store is available to users now on the Acer R11 and Asus Flip (and coming soon to Pixel 2015) and can be enabled from the Settings page.” These three laptops, alongside the HP Chromebox CB1 and Acer C7 Chromebook, did not receive the last stable channel update.

It should be also noted that Google Play is disabled by default and requires to be manually enabled from Chrome Settings with the latest update. To recall, Google Play made it to the Dev channel of Chrome OS in June and the Beta channel in August. Now it has finally made its way to the stable channel. The v53.0.2785.129 update also brings bug fixes, security updates, and feature enhancements, apart from a kernel version update.

For now, it’s still not known when Google will bring Android app support and Google Play access to all other eligible Chrome OS machines.

Chrome OS 53 added Overview mode, which allows you to see all your open tabs with a shortcut key or three finger swipe on the trackpad. The update also brought along Material Design Layout to the build.

Google also added new APIs to the Chrome OS 53 that allow you to enable the watchdog timers for kiosk apps that utilise full-screen modes on Chromebooks.

 

Opera for Desktop Gets Free VPN on Windows, Linux, and Mac

Opera for Desktop Gets Free VPN on Windows, Linux, and Mac

  • Opera VPN for Desktop has launched officially
  • It is free to use and unlimited
  • You can set use the VPN to access geo-restricted content

After bringing its free VPN services to iOS and Android, Opera has now released a free, no-login VPN for desktop users as well. The VPN is bundled in to the Opera browser and requires no sign-in or any setup – using it is as simple as the press of a single button. What this does is make using a VPN simple even for users who are not technologically-inclined. Opera’s browser VPN was firstlaunched as a beta in April this year.

A month later, Opera VPN was available as a standalone app on iOS. The VPN was then launched for Android in August before finally rolling out the final version for desktop users now.

The VPN functions the same way on all three platforms. It’s free and unlimited, and allows you to change your geographic location while also protecting your data from third party snooping. Opera VPN lets you choose from one of five locations – Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Singapore, and USA. This allows you to pose as someone who’s visiting any given website from one of these five nations. This, in turn, will allow you to access region-locked content. The app supports English, Arabic, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish languages.

To activate it, Mac users just need to click the Opera menu, select “Preferences” and toggle the feature VPN on, while Windows and Linux users need to go to the “Privacy and Security” section in “Settings” and enable VPN there.

“If people knew how the internet truly works, I believe they all would use a VPN,” says Krystian Kolondra, SVP of Opera browser for computers. “By making our browser VPN free and easy to use, we hope to make it an essential tool, just as the lock and key is to your house.”

People can also let the Opera browser intelligently select the optimal server location based on factors such as network speed, latency, location and server capacity. When in automatic location mode, browsing through the VPN is always at maximum available speed.

“We know that people are concerned about their privacy online and that the interest for VPN is increasing,” Kolondra adds. “However, two major obstacles are blocking people from using it: VPNs are too complicated to use, and they require a monthly subscription. Opera resolves both issues by introducing its free and easy-to-use service right into the browser.”

 

Moto Z to Launch in India This Festive Season, Lenovo Executive Confirms

Moto Z to Launch in India This Festive Season, Lenovo Executive Confirms

  • Moto Z was launched in June globally
  • Moto Z, Moto Z Force and newer Moto Z Play will hit Indian markets soon
  • Price details are not confirmed yet

Chinese technology giant Lenovo will bring the much-awaited modular smartphone Moto Z to the Indian market this festive season.

The Moto Z, which was unveiled globally in June this year, allows users to attach a set of accessories called Moto Mods to the back of the device that adds various functionalities to the device.

“We will launch 8 new devices, of which six we have already announced, in this festive season… This includes the Moto Z,” Lenovo India Executive Director Mobile Business Group Sudhin Mathur told PTI.

While Mathur declined to comment on the timeline of availability of Moto Z in India, sources said the product could be launched in the first or second week of October.

Moto Z is currently available in markets like the US, the UK, and Latin America in three models (Moto Z Play, Moto Z, and Moto Z Force).

Lenovo, which had acquired Motorola from Google in a $2.9 billion deal in 2014, is betting on India to contribute significantly to its global growth. Last year, Lenovo’s revenues from India grew about 90 per cent while its overall revenues were up 68 percent.

According to research firm Gartner, smartphone sales are expected to slow down in 2016 globally, rising only seven percent compared to double-digit growth seen in previous years.

This is on the back of slower sales growth in mature markets like Europe and Japan. India, on the other hand, remains an opportunity and presents the highest growth potential, Gartner said.

Motorola Moto Z

Motorola Moto Z

Display

5.50-inch

Processor

2.2GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

1440×2560 pixels

RAM

4GB

OS

Android 6.0.1

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

13-megapixel

Battery capacity

2600mAh