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WHATSAPP CONFIRMS THAT MESSAGES BACKED UP ON GOOGLE DRIVE ARE NOT ENCRYPTED

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WhatsApp has been advertising their encryption policy for a while now. The company has left no stones unturned to make sure users understand that the messages are end-to-end encrypted and can’t be intercepted by anyone. However, it looks like the same can’t be said for Google Drive backups.

Recently, the company announced a partnership with Google to exempt WhatsApp backups from Google Drive free quota calculations. Previously the WhatsApp backups stored on Drive used to count within the 15 GB free space that a Google account offered. With the new partnership, WhatsApp also confirmed that the data stored on Google Drive is not encrypted. The company confirmed this in a blog post update about Google Drive- “Media and messages you back up aren’t protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in Google Drive”.

That said, security researchers did point out that it’s not mandatory to upload backups on Google Drive so in case you’re not comfortable then just choose the local backup option.

As a WhatsApp user you have the choice to not backup your data to Google Drive,” said. They (WhatsApp) are not forcing you to backup. It is a feature. So, if you trust Google, you can enable it. At the same time if law enforcement agencies requests Google for specific user data, they have to comply.

– Sai Krishna Kothapalli, an independent security researcher

WhatsApp has always promised complete end-to-end encryption and has confirmed on various occasions that even the company can’t access the messages. While this is true because the messages are stored on the phones of the users and not on WhatsApp servers, the company says they can’t guarantee the same for Google Drive backups. If you’re not comfortable then don’t upload WhatsApp backups on Google Drive. The feature is present but is optional so if you don’t like it then don’t use it.

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Mobile Platforms

APPLE LOOP: NEW IPHONE XS HANDS ON REVIEW, TIM COOK CANCELS IPHONE BATTERY OFFER, IPHONE XR DELAYED

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Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes all the news from the Apple launch, the launch of the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, hands-on reviews of the new iPhones, the stunning Apple Watch 4, this missing MacBooks and iPads, changes to Apple’s battery replacement program, and why Tim Cook can’t keep a secret.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

The new Apple iPhone Xs (L) and iPhone Xs Max (R) are displayed during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple’s 2018 iPhone Portfolio Revealed

The traditional September launch event dominates Apple Loop this week, so let’s get started on looking at the news and the initial thoughts. First up is the refresh of the iPhone X family, with the reveal of the 5.8 inch screened iPhone XS and the 6.5 inch screened the iPhone XS Max.

Echoing the design of last year’s iPhone X (which has been removed from the main portfolio), the two models have the new A12 chip, FaceID, OLED displays, and introduce Dual-SIM capability for the first time. Both sport dual cameras and Apple was keen to show off the software used to process the raw images:

iPhone Xs continues to bring innovations to photography, things not possible before iPhone. Capabilities like advanced depth segmentation using the Neural Engine, Smart HDR creating photos with high dynamic range and great image detail, advanced bokeh quality in Portrait mode photos and dynamic depth of field that is user adjustable in the Photos app, are all huge improvements in state-of-the-art photographic techniques that everyone can use.

Introducing The iPhone XR

Also announced at Apple’s event was the iPhone Xr. This will be the ‘entry-level’ member of the iPhone X family, on sale at $749. Sporting the A12 chip, the same wide-angle camera as the XS, and the use of FaceID to unlock and gesture controls replacing the home button mark it out as the ‘future’ of the iPhone, even though the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus units that it arguably replaces are still listed in Apple’s portfolio. From the press release:

iPhone XR brings the powerful A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, the TrueDepth camera system, Face ID and an advanced camera system that creates dramatic portraits using a single camera lens.

More details at Apple.com.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, introduce the company’s newest smartphone, the iPhone Xs (Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

Pricing And Pre Ordering Details

Preorders for the iPhone XS and XS Max opened today (Friday 14th September), with a retail releases starting on Friday 21st September in the US – other territories may vary. Unlike last year, the more expensive handset is on sale first, and the cheaper iPhone XR will be open for ordering in the following month, with pre-orders beginning Friday, October 19 and in stores beginning Friday, October 26.

While production delays on the LCD are expected to be the practical reason behind the XR delay, last year saw the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus go on sale before the iPhone X, which potentially depressed sales of the more expensive handset. That situation is reversed this year.

Hands On With The Technology

What can you expect from the handsets? Forbes’ David Phelan was invited to The Steve Jobs Theatre and was graciously allowed to touch one of the mythical new handsets:

The question mark over just how big the iPhone Xs Max would feel was quickly answered: just fine. If you can handle the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone Xs Max feels the same, though a little more high-end thanks to the shiny stainless-steel frame instead of the aluminium one found on the 8 Plus. The notch was less dominating because the 6.5in display is bigger so the camera element proportionally smaller.

But although it’s the same physical size as the iPhone 8 Plus, the edge-to-edge screen means your fingers and thumbs have bigger distances to travel than ever.

But What Does It All Mean?

Reading the runestones of an Apple event used to be difficult. The launches used to debut new ideas, trajectories, and services. Now, they are very much more of the same, handsets with iterative updates, and Apple quietly ratcheting up the pricing. This year’s September event? It’s all about resetting definitions.

That could be the definition of what it means to be an edge, so you can sell a phone with an edge-to-edge display that has acres of bezel on it, or it could be redefining what a mid-range handset price is. I took on the former, while Andrew Orlowski examined the latter:

Yesterday Apple discontinued its budget iPhone SE and unveiled new models costing £1,500. Since relatively few people switch between platforms, Apple’s growth relies in part from making more money from people who already have an iPhone.

That doesn’t just mean more phones with a higher margins – but selling peripherals like AirPods and Watch, and upselling Apple services. The latter now generates almost £10bn a quarter, growing a third year-on-year, which offsets stagnating hardware unit sales.

… iPhone revenue is up 20 per cent year-on-year with unit growth of just 1 per cent. A quarter earlier, we saw the X effect as ASP rose from $628 to $728.

Apple COO Jeff Williams discusses Apple Watch Series 4 during an event on September 12, 2018, in Cupertino, California (Photo: Noah Berger/AFP/Getty Images)

The Real Story Is The Apple Watch

If you wanted any sort of technological wow moment at the Apple event, you had to turn to your own wrist, and the launch of the Apple Watch 4. A larger display, louder speaker, and improved cellular reception were all solid updates, but the real news was the inclusion of an FDA-approved ECG monitor. Nicole Nguyen reports:

Apple’s newest touchscreen smartwatch also introduces built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) functionality, which uses electrical signals for heart rate monitoring. It’s the first over-the-counter product to offer ECG to consumers.

Users open the app, put their finger on the watch’s digital crown, and after 30 seconds, you will receive heart rhythm classification. The app can classify signs of atrial fibrillation, which can be followed by a stroke.

Yes we saw the next iteration of the iPhone, the life-saving benefits of the latest Apple Watch, and even a nod to the HomePod (summary: it’s not dead, please buy it). But what about the expected updated to the iPad, MacBook and Mac ranges? Missing? Going loco down in Acapulco? Jeremy Horowitz has some ideas:

Apple has provided a clue that you won’t have long to wait. Back in August, it abruptly removed a tentpole feature called Group FaceTime from its iOS 12 and macOS Mojave betas, saying that it “will ship in a future software update later this fall.” That’s an atypically specific tip of the hat for Apple — and a perfect time to show off how multiple users’ faces, including Face ID-dependent Memoji, look on big iPad Pro and Mac screens.

So get ready for another Apple media event — and new point release updates to iOS and macOS — shortly after the dust has cleared with the new iPhones and Apple Watches. It’s going to be a busy run-up to the holiday season this year, but an exciting one.

Macbook, March 2015 (image: Apple PR)APPLE PR

More Expensive Batteries Sneaked Out

With all of the new products taking up the Apple oxygen, it was a good day to sneak out some news on the battery replacement costs. Apple is raising the prices on January 1st 2019 for out of warranty battery replacements. Chris Welch has more.

Walking into your local Apple Store and getting a battery replacement for your iPhone is pretty cheap at the moment. Just $29. But when 2018 comes to a close, that temporary pricing — introduced in response to last year’s throttling controversy that affected iPhones with aging batteries — will be going away.

…Apple has updated its battery page with the new rates that will begin on January 1st. In 2019, out-of-warranty battery swaps will cost:

More at The Verge.

And Finally…

Why can’t Apple keep a secret any more? Anyone who has been following the chatter online will have every iPhone announcement this week. From promotional shots discovered early, to mistakes with web server files, has Cupertino lost its touch in keeping quiet? Chuck La Tournous Investigates:

In truth, Apple’s secrecy was never quite as ironclad as legend suggests. The “Luxo” iMac, the G4 Cube, the infamous case of the lost/stolen iPhone 4 . . . the list of products that were accidentally pre-revealed goes on and on. Still, these leaks were mostly speculation based on snippets of information, fuzzy images of prototypes, or product pages, and magazine covers that went live a bit too soon.

Today’s leaks are different. They’re much more consistently accurate and come with fair regularity from reliable sources. Does that mean Steve Jobs was better at running a tight ship than Tim Cook? Probably not.

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.

I am known for my strong views on mobile technology, online media, and the effect this has on and communication will have on the public conscious and existing…MORE
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Desktops

SAMSUNG’S TAB S4 IS BOTH AN ANDROID TABLET AND A DESKTOP COMPUTER

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Today, Samsung is unveiling the successor to its well-rounded yet expensive Galaxy Tab S3 from last year. The new Galaxy Tab S4 improves upon last year’s slab in nearly every way, and it should be more versatile for users thanks to included Samsung Dex software. Confined to accessories until now, Samsung Dex software lets users connect a Samsung mobile device to a monitor and then use the device as a pseudo-desktop.

The first Dex dock came out over a year ago and was designed to be used with Samsung smartphones. Users could plug their device into the dock, connect it to a monitor, pair a keyboard and a mouse, and use the setup as they would a full desktop PC. The system ran a version of Android that Samsung modified to better suit a desktop UI, which included a lock screen and a task bar area with app icons. Dex on the Galaxy Tab S4 works just like this, with a couple of extra features that leverage the power of a tablet.

When connected to a monitor, both the big screen and the tablet’s screen can be used simultaneously. In a short demo, Samsung showed how the device supports up to 20 open windows at once and how features like split screen and drag-and-drop can be used just as they would on a desktop PC. Users can launch Dex when not connected to a monitor as well, and that produces the same modified Android UI on the tablet’s 10.5-inch, 2560×1600 Super AMOLED display.

Samsung claims users can launch any Android app while using Dex, but it’s unclear how many are truly Dex-optimized to fit a larger screen and make use of keyboard shortcuts. Big players, including Google, Adobe, and Microsoft, signed up to support Dex back when the software was still new, and more developers have been optimizing their Android apps for Chrome OS devices as Google’s browser-based operating system has gained popularity. Undoubtedly, more Android apps can be used comfortably on desktop-sized screens than when Dex originally launched.

In addition to Dex, the Tab S4 supports signature Samsung features like Air Command, translate, off-screen memos, and live message. Originally confined to Galaxy Note devices, live message lets users create gifs of themselves and decorate them with pen drawings before sending them in a message to friends and family. Samsung redesigned the S Pen that accompanies the Tab S4 to be easier to hold in your hand and more like a traditional pencil, but even with those changes it still doesn’t require charging. We’ll have to test it further to determine how much better it is than the previous stylus.

The Tab S4 is slightly bigger than the Tab S3 with its 10.5-inch display, and it runs on a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of memory, and up to 64GB of internal storage with space for up to 400GB with the use of a microSD card. It has a 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing camera while supporting 4K video recording at 30fps, and inside are four speakers tuned by AKG.

Samsung added a lot of heft to the Tab S4’s battery—the company claims the 7,300mAh battery can support up to 16 hours of video playback. On paper, it’s a solid improvement from the Tab S3’s 6,000mAh battery, so we’re interested in putting it through our battery tests to see if Samsung’s estimates hold up.

The Galaxy name is synonymous with Android, but the decision to make yet another Android tablet is a curious one. Android tablets are being left in the dust as Chrome OS infiltrates the tablet scene. It’s possible that Samsung will consider making a Chrome OS tablet in the future—but the Galaxy Tab S4 supports Android and Android only, unlike the company’s Galaxy Book of yesteryear that came in Android and Windows varieties.

The Galaxy Tab S4 will be available August 10 starting at $649 for the Wi-Fi version. Samsung will also sell an LTE version of the tablet through Verizon, but starting price for that model hasn’t been disclosed yet. The Book Cover Keyboard for the Tab S4 costs $149.

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Mobile Platforms

END OF ANDROID? FEARS GOOGLE MAY BE SCRAPING HUGELY POPULAR MOBILE OS

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ANDROID fans have been put on alert about shock claims that Google are planning on scraping the hugely popular smartphone and tablet OS.

Android could be replaced with a new mobile operating system that Google are working on right now, according to shock new claims.

Android is one of the most used pieces of software in the world.

At the Google I/O developer conference in 2017 it was revealed that more than two billion devices use Android each and every month.

But despite the huge number of people that use Android worldwide, sources are claiming that Google are busy working on a successor already.

And one insider has claimed that it’s hoped the in-development mobile OS, known as Fuchsia, will replace Android within the next five years.

For more than two years a group of engineers at Google have been working on the software they hope will succeed Android.

More than 100 engineers are currently working on the project which is intended to be used across all in-house Google gadgets, Bloomberg reported.

The OS is reportedly intended to work on Pixel phones and smart speakers as well as third party-devices that use Android and Chrome OS.

Fuchsia will reportedly be designed to better accommodate voice interactions and frequent security updates across a range of devices.

The latter will be music to Android users’ ears.

 

Android

Android is used on over two billion devices each and every month (Image: GETTY)

The news comes after the European Commission (EC) earlier this week handed Google a whopping fine over Android.

The Brussels regulator insisted the tech giant had used Android illegally to “cement its dominant position” in user searches.

It was argued that Google requiring Android phone manufacturers to pre-install its Chrome browser and Search app had allowed it to gain an unfair advantage over potential rivals.

As a result Brussels issued Google with a record €4.34billion (£3.9billion) fine.

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