Why iPhone phishing scam shouldn’t become a problem

APPLE fans were warned about a hypothetical iPhone phishing attack by iOS code expert Felix Krause this week.

The phishing scam he designed mimics the familiar pop-up window on iOS devices which routinely prompts users to enter their Apple ID password when doing things like downloading apps. It looks exactly the same but it’s designed to steal your password.

The blog post gained major traction this week for showing the potential for hackers to make an easily deceptive iOS app feature, despite it not being in the wild.

“The goal of this blog post is to close the loophole that has been there for many years, and hasn’t been addressed yet,” Mr Krause wrote.

“For moral reasons, I decided not to include the actual source code of the pop-up, however it was shockingly easy to replicate the system dialogue.”

Apple declined to officially comment on the blog post but stressed the demonstration by Mr Krause remained a proof of concept and was not something currently being experienced by customers.

Ultimately a malicious developer would need to corrupt an app already in the app store or somehow sneak an app with malicious code past the auditing systems that scrutinise everything about a potential app — from its code to its appearance — before being approved to appear in the App Store.

Sebastian O’Halloran develops iOS apps under the moniker Juicy Apps in Hobart, Tasmania, and thinks these days such an app would almost certainly be detected by Apple.

The 18-year-old has been building apps since he was 11, and says he has experienced first hand just how finicky the company can be with its auditing process.

At 14 he designed an app to allow people with intellectual disabilities communicate what they wanted to get from the governments’ newly introduced disability care scheme.

Some of his apps have been rejected for relatively “minute” things in the past such as “mismatched screenshots” that didn’t appear to exactly match the appearance of the app’s interface.

“They’re incredibly thorough,” he told news.com.au. “They try to dismiss ‘scammy’ apps as much as possible.”

“In saying that there was a couple of apps that got through two or three years ago that were intended for scamming and somehow they got through the system.

“So I’m not saying it’s bullet proof.”

In 2013 researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found a way to sneak malicious iOS apps past Apple’s review process. Ultimately the apps could be updated after they’d been approved to carry out harmful actions without triggering security alarms. The researchers shared their successful act of deception in a paper titled: When Benign Apps Become Evil.

In 2015, hackers also managed to sneak malware designed to steal users’ iCloud passwords onto Chinese apps in the App Store.

These instances have no doubt caused Apple to bolster its review process — something which it clearly thinks would catch any app like the one made by Mr Krause.

Dangerous sound? What Americans heard in Cuba ‘sonic’ attacks

IT SOUNDS sort of like a mass of crickets. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe.

Listen closely: There are multiple, distinct tones that sound to some like they’re colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.

The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some US Embassy workers heard in Havana in a series of unnerving incidents later deemed to be deliberate attacks which left US diplomats suffering mild brain damage including memory loss and loss of cognitive ability.

The recording, released overnight, is one of the many taken in Cuba of mysterious sounds that led investigators initially to suspect a sonic weapon.

The recordings themselves are not believed to be dangerous to those who listen. Sound experts and physicians say they know of no sound that can cause physical damage when played for short durations at normal levels through standard equipment like a mobile phone or computer.

What device produced the original sound remains unknown. Americans affected in Havana reported the sounds hit them at extreme volumes.

Whether there’s a direct relationship between the sound and the physical damage suffered by the victims is also unclear. The US says that in general the attacks caused hearing, cognitive, visual, balance, sleep and other problems.

The recordings from Havana have been sent for analysis to the US Navy, which has advanced capabilities for analysing acoustic signals, and to the intelligence services. But the recordings have not significantly advanced US knowledge about what is harming diplomats.

The Navy did not respond to requests for comment on the recording. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert wouldn’t comment on the tape’s authenticity.

Cuba has denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. The US hasn’t blamed anyone and says it still doesn’t know what or who is responsible. But the government has faulted President Raul Castro’s government for failing to protect American personnel, and Nauert said Thursday that Cuba “may have more information than we are aware of right now.”

“We believe that the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” said White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Not all Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds. Of those who did, it’s not clear they heard precisely the same thing.

Yet the AP has reviewed several recordings from Havana taken under different circumstances, and all have variations of the same high-pitched sound. Individuals who have heard the noise in Havana confirm the recordings are generally consistent with what they heard.

“That’s the sound,” one of them said.

A billboard depicting the image of legendary guerrilla leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara images in a street of Havana this month. Picture: Yamil Lage

A billboard depicting the image of legendary guerrilla leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara images in a street of Havana this month. Picture: Yamil LageSource:AFP

The recordings have been played for workers at the US Embassy to teach them what to listen for, said several individuals with knowledge of the situation in Havana. Some embassy employees have also been given recording devices to turn on if they hear the sounds. The individuals weren’t authorised to discuss the situation publicly and demanded anonymity.

Cuban officials wouldn’t say whether the US has shared the recordings with Cuba’s government.

Another big question remains: Even if you know you’re under attack, what do you do?

Still dumbfounded by what’s causing this, the United States has been at a loss to offer advice.

The embassy’s security officials have told staff if they believe they’re being attacked, they should get up and move to a different location, because the attack is unlikely to be able to follow them, the commenting individuals said.

Some diplomats who experienced an attack or heard sounds reported they were narrowly confined to a room or parts of a room.

At least 22 Americans are “medically confirmed” to be affected, the State Department says, adding that the number could grow. The attacks started last year and are considered “ongoing,” with an incident reported as recently as late August.

Cuba has defended its “exhaustive and priority” response, emphasising its eagerness to assist the US investigation. Cuban officials did not respond to requests for comment for this story but have complained in the past that Washington refuses to share information they say they need to fully investigate, such as medical records, technical data and timely notification of attacks.

Biometric security: your next password could be your face, eyes or even the way you walk

WHAT if you could stroll through a building’s lobby to be identified and gain access?

And what if your bank would let you gaze at your smartphone to unlock a payment?

Both are possible using advanced biometric authentication technology that is now being tested and even rolled out to an increasing number of smartphones, tablet computers, laptops, and smartwatches.

And new research shows the transition from passwords, or “something you know,” to fingerprint, face, and eyeball scans, or “something you are,” could be complete within two years for phones, with other devices to follow in 2020.

In the last 24 hours, there has been talk that Apple may even ditch its Touch ID system on its iPhones and replace it with Face ID.

According to an investors note sent by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, he says it’s now likely that all 2018 iPhone models will move to Face ID and leave Touch ID behind.

While Apple has been facing manufacturing difficulties with 3D sensing, Kuo says Face ID will help Apple “capitalise on its clear lead in 3D sensing design and production for smartphones.”

But, as Apple readies to launch its first face-scanner this month, do security experts consider this technology more secure or just more convenient?

Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, Philip Schiller, introduces the iPhone X. Picture: AFP

Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, Philip Schiller, introduces the iPhone X. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Biometric security has been creeping into everyday technology for years, slowly replacing passwords and lengthy PIN codes.

Apple introduced its fingerprint scanner to phones in 2013, for example, while Microsoft unveiled facial recognition for its Surface computers in 2015.

The technology is evolving, however, and becoming both more common and more advanced.

Dissatisfied with the security of a fingerprint lock, Samsung introduced an iris scanner with its Galaxy S8 smartphone that photographs the coloured parts of your eyes and identifies up to 200 features in each eyeball to authenticate your identity.


Galaxy S8 and Note 8 users can use this technology to unlock their phone and even to authenticate bank transfers or credit card payments.

Apple will also upgrade the biometric security in its top smartphone within a fortnight, introducing Face ID to the iPhone X as a replacement for its fingerprint scanner.

READ MORE: Hands on with Apple’s iPhone X

The facial recognition system uses a host of front-facing sensors, including a flood illuminator, dot projector, and infra-red camera, to project over 30,000 invisible points on to the user’s face and create a 3D model of their appearance.

It’s similar technology to that used in the Xbox Kinect, though Apple also uses a neural engine in the phone’s processor to determine whether the person looking at the phone is someone new or whether the user has just grown a beard, added spectacles, or changed hairstyles.

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 8 has biometric technology. Picture: AP

Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 8 has biometric technology. Picture: APSource:AP

Apple worldwide marketing vice-president Phil Schiller says there is “no perfect system, not even biometric-wise” for locking phones, but the new face-scanning technology would be significantly more secure.

“The data for (the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner) Touch ID has been one in 50,000, meaning that the chance that a random person could use their fingerprint to unlock your iPhone has been one in 50,000 and it’s been great,” he says.

“What are the similar statistics for Face ID? One in a million.”

The spread of biometric security features is also expected to accelerate over the next three years.

Acuity Market Intelligence predicts all smartphones will feature some form of biometric technology by 2019 and, by 2020, it will also feature in all laptops, tablets, and smartwatches.

Facial recognition could spread to online services too, with Facebook revealing it was testing the technology to confirm user’s identities.

Biometric technology could involve more than just face or fingerprint scans in future, though.

Internet giant Google has experimented with mapping speech patterns to identify users, and the CSIRO has developed technology that identifies people by the way they walk.


The prototype technology, which requires users to wear a device backed with motion sensors, was tested on 20 subjects earlier this year with an accuracy of 95 per cent.

CSIRO Data 61 networks research group leader Professor Dali Kaafar says the unique authentication system is “convenient because as we walk around each day our gait can be sampled continuously” and it’s also “more secure than passwords because the way we talk is difficult to mimic”.

“Since (it) keeps authenticating the user continuously, it collects a significant amount of information about our movements, making it difficult to imitate or hack unlike guessing passwords or PIN codes,” he says.


Face scanners: Apple iPhone X, Microsoft Surface Pro, HP Spectre x2, Alienware 15.

Eye scanners: Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Fingerprint scanners: Google Pixel 2, LG G3, Huawei P10 Plus, Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

Wacky wearable technology: from breast pumps to beer testers, the newest gadgets are unusual

FROM testing your blood alcohol limit during a big night out to cooling you down on a summer’s day, wearable technology is getting more advanced, more useful, and seriously wacky.

The technology now features in everything from the cuffs of denim jackets to portable breast pumps, and even hides inside rose gold jewellery.

And the latest innovations are likely to find an audience willing to wear them as Australians continue to embrace wearable tech in record numbers, according to industry analysts.

The Proof wristband from Milo Sensors tests alcohol molecules in your skin to detect your level of sobriety. Picture: Supplied

The Proof wristband from Milo Sensors tests alcohol molecules in your skin to detect your level of sobriety. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Research firm IDC recently found wearable technology had jumped in popularity again this year, with consumers buying 26.3 million devices between April and June, up more than 10 per cent.

Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said Australians were among the early adopters of wearable technology, from fitness trackers to smartwatches, and were likely to embrace next-generation devices, even if they initially seemed strange.

“As a society will we accept so many devices on us? Yes, I think we will, given we accept so many apps in our lives today,” Mr Fadaghi said.

“You can definitely expect more products that sit on a person, particularly if they can mesh into the background and not be obvious to everyone around.”

New wearable gadgets span the gamut from items that sit on your wrist to devices you slip in a bra.

The Proof wristband, for example, uses biometric sensors to detect alcohol molecules in your skin and can deliver notifications about your sobriety, or lack thereof, to your smartphone in real-time.

Milo Sensors chief executive Evan Strenk said the device, currently under development, would use disposable patches that worked for 12 hours at a time and would prove less “awkward” than pulling out a breathalyser at the pub.

The Embr Wave is a wearable device created by scientists from MIT that promises to cool or warm the wearer. Picture: Supplied

The Embr Wave is a wearable device created by scientists from MIT that promises to cool or warm the wearer. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Upright Technologies also launched two new wearable devices in Australia this week, with the Upright Go and Upright Pro designed to stick to the wearer’s back and vibrate when they detected poor posture.

The $150 and $200 devices can also be used to merely track slouching if alerts get too distracting.

Other new healthy wearable tech included a watch-like device from MIT scientists called Embr Wave that can directly cool or warm “the temperature-sensitive skin on your wrist,” a stylish and waterproof ring called Motiv that tracks exercise and sleep, and a smart, wearable breast pump system for nursing mothers called Willow that stores milk in modest, sealed bags and is now available to beta testers willing to pay $US480.

Mr Fadaghi said health gadgets were particularly popular with Australian consumers, as they often had a specific purpose and gave wearers more data about what they were already doing.

“When it comes to alcohol testers, for example, people are not going to wear a band because they want to wear a band, but they’ll wear it so they’re alerted not to drive a vehicle drunk,” he said.

Internet giant Google is also dipping a toe into the wearable tech field, announcing a Pixel Buds headset that can translate languages automatically, and releasing its smart denim jacket created with Levi’s this month.

The $US350 Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard features a touch-sensitive area sewn into its sleeve that, when connected with a removable USB stick, can control your smartphone.

Are Samsung’s Smart TVs really spying on you?


Remember when Microsoft revealed Kinect would quietly listen to everything you said, causing the internet to erupt into furious, anti-Orwellian storm? Now it’s Samsung’s turn.

A passage from the company’s Smart TV privacy policy has been doing the rounds, revealing a small but concerning detail: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

The idea of our personal information being captured by any sort of technology should make anyone uncomfortable, but it’s that mention of a “third party” which is most disconcerting.

However, Samsung has tried to offer some reassurance. It told TechRadar it “does not retain voice data or sell it to third parties”.

“If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search. At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”

Privacy party

It added: “Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use.”

The company added that you’ll know if the voice recognition feature is active because a microphone icon will be present on the screen. Samsung also reminds us that the feature can be activated or deactivated by the user.

And of course, the TV owner can also disconnect the TV from the Wi-Fi network entirely, although that somewhat defeats the point of having a smart television.

That might help some people sleep more soundly at night, but as the Internet of Things starts to consume our daily lives, this certainly won’t be the last (or the worst) privacy scare.

Addicted to Tinder? Well then this gadget is perfect for you

If you are a Tinder addict then you know… swiping left and right can be tough on the fingers.

If you are a Tinder addict then you know… swiping left and right can be tough on the fingers.

Think about it, you got to hold your phone in one hand and then meticulously slide across every single photo with the other. I mean, it’s technically a workout.

Therefore a new invention has hit the scenes to eliminate all your swiping struggles… introducing the Tinda Finger.

Yep, Tinda Finger is basically a motorised finger that plugs into the charging port of your phone and with one little push, will swipe all available profiles for you without any assistance.

Working at 100 revolutions per minute, the Tinda Finger can clock up 6,000 swipes in an hour. With a turnover this high, it also means we can never EVER use the excuse “I wish someone would bring me on a date” again.

The Tinda Finger is still currently in the production phase with a rumoured online price of €15 once it hits the shelves, this is most definitely a solid investment.

Only downsides we can think of are:

1. What should I do when I swipe yes to people who turn into utter plagues?

2. Will swiping yes to this many people absolutely kill my battery?

3. What happens if I swipe yes to people in the office without knowing and they are like WTF

4. How will I afford the lifestyle of a serial dater?

5.  What happens if nobody swipes back?

6. How much does a cat cost?

I feel this product could do great on Dragons Den but until it’s created I suppose we have no choice but to keep swiping ‘old school’.


Panasonic promises its Google smart speaker will deliver high-quality sound

Image result for Panasonic promises its Google smart speaker will deliver high-quality soundWhen it comes to smart speakers, Panasonic is hoping users will remember the music and not just the assistant technology.

The company’s new SC-GA10 is a large, minimally designed smart speaker with Google Assistant inside that also boasts a powerful audio punch. Panasonic demonstrated the speaker at Berlin’s IFA trade show in two versions: both had a silver base and one had a black speaker while the other was white.

The speaker unit contains a bass speaker and two tweeters offset by about 90 degrees to each other to help fill a room with sound. The speakers can work on their own or be grouped together through a smartphone app for stereo or multi-room audio.

They respond to all the usual Google voice commands and are also compatible with Chromecast Audio. Users can also connect to one speaker via Bluetooth and have the audio replayed through multiple speakers.

The SC-GA10 smart speaker will be available in early 2018. Panasonic hasn’t disclosed the price.

iPhone X Face ID fail: A feature, not a bug

Image result for iPhone X Face ID fail: A feature, not a bug

When the moment of truth arrived at the Apple event on Tuesday, iPhone Xfailed. During the world premier of the device’s lauded Face ID biometric security system, it took Craig Federighi three times to get face ID to unlock his demo phone. But don’t worry, Apple says. That’s supposed to happen.

When Federighi began the iPhone X demo, he naturally started with a locked iPhone. “Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up,” he said, hoping to magically unlock the phone to whoops and cheers from the audience like when Steve Jobs swiped to unlock the original iPhone. Except that didn’t happen.

On the first attempt, the phone didn’t respond. The second try produced the pin code screen with the message, “Your passcode is required to enable Face ID.” It wasn’t until the third attempt—after Federighi had to pick up a backup iPhone X and wipe some sweat from his brow—when the iPhone X finally unlocked.

Naturally, this blooper went viral on social media, as people began to question the accuracy of Apple’s new unlocking method. Well, apparently Apple has had enough of the ribbing, since it has responded with the following statement, as first reported by Yahoo’s David Pogue:

“People were handling the device for the stage demo ahead of time and didn’t realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face. After failing a number of times, because they weren’t Craig [Federighi], the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode.”

Apple also wants to alleviate our concerns about how Face ID will work when it’s not on a giant stage. In anemail reply to concerned customer Keith Krimbel, Federighi assured him that Face ID will be able to work when using dark sunglasses: “Most sunglasses let through enough IR light that Face ID can see your eyes even when the glasses appear to be opaque. It’s really amazing!”

Federighi also confirmed that Face ID will not unlock the phone if a user isn’t staring directly at the screen and shared this tidbit: “If you grip the buttons on both sides of the phone when [you] hand it over, it will temporarily disable Face ID.”

But the question remains whether Face ID will be as fast and foolproof as Apple claims. In our hands-on demo of the new feature, there were some quirks, but Apple still has some time to iron out the bugs before iPhone X starts shipping.

Face the music: Apple may have a tidy explanation for what happened here, but the damage is already done, and many people have already seen the headline, “FACE ID FAIL.” Granted, it’s unlikely to impact sales of the new $999 device too much, but still, Face ID is going to be a heavily scrutinized and criticized feature in the new iPhone X, so much so that Apple might regret not putting a fingerprint scanner on the back of the device. But hey, these things happen. It’s not like Steve didn’t have his share of keynote mishaps.

Galaxy Note8: Features, specs and everything else you need to know

galaxy note8 front 3

At long last, the Galaxy Note 8 is here. Whether you begrudgingly returned your Note 7 after the battery-related recall, or have just been counting the days until your Note 5 was eligible for an upgrade, the Galaxy Note 8 is ready to fill the phablet-sized hole in your life.

And based on our first impressions, it looks like the Note 8 was worth the wait. From its giant screen to its greatly improved camera, Samsung’s latest productivity handset is a tour de force, packing cutting-edge features inside an elegant, compact enclosure. Here’s everything you need to know about the newest phablet on the block.


  • Galaxy Note 8 review
  • Galaxy Note 8 hands-on
  • Note8 specs
  • Note 8 price and release date
  • Note 8 display and design

Galaxy Note 8 review

The Galaxy Note 8 is the best phone Samsung has ever made. It’s a massive leap over the Note7 and even manages to improve upon the impressive Galaxy S8. The price might be a little steep for some buyers, but if you don’t mind making an investment, the Note 8 will be an awesome phone for years to come. Read our full review to learn why we love it so much.

Galaxy Note 8 hands-on

Note8 specs

  • Display: 6.3″ Quad HD+ 2960 x 1440 Super AMOLED, 532ppi
  • Dimensions: 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm
  • Weight: 195g
  • Color: Midnight black, orchid gray in the U.S.; deepsea blue, maple gold internationally
  • Operating system: Samsung Experience based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (octo-core, 10nm, up to 2.45GHz)
  • GPU: Adreno 540
  • Rear camera: Dual 12MP telephone and wide angle,
  • Front camera: 8MP, f/1.7
  • Storage: 64/128/256GB UFS 2.1 2-LANE
  • Ports: USB C, nano-SIM slot/microsSD, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Battery: 3,300 mAh

Note 8 price and release date

The Galaxy Note 8 is Samsung’s most expensive phone to date, clocking in at around $950—about $100 more than the Galaxy S8+. Preorders are already being accepted and the device will begin shipping on Friday, September 15. Samsung is selling the unlocked Note 8 for $930, and carrier pricing is as follows:

  • T-Mobile is charging $930 for a full-priced Galaxy Note 8, or you can put down $210 up front and spread the rest of the cost over 24 $30 monthly payments. Also, Jump On Demand customers will pay $39 a month with no down payment, for a cost of $936.
  • AT&T customers will pay $950 up front for a Note 8, or $31.67 for 30 months on an AT&T Next plan.
  • Verizon will be selling the phablet for $960, or $40 a month for 24 months.
  • Over at Sprint, the Note 8 will also cost $960. However, the carrier is offering the the device for zero down and $20 per month for 24 months ($480) with the Sprint Flex leasing plan for new customers.

Note 8 display and design

galaxy note8 holding

Michael Simon/IDG

The Galaxy Note 8 looks a lot like the Galaxy S8+ but there are subtle differences.

If you’ve used a Galaxy S8+, then you already have a pretty good idea of how the Note 8 looks. It features a 6.3-inch AMOLED display (up a fraction of an inch from the 6.2-inch S8+), and it features the same stunning Infinity Display design. The design takes most of its cues from the S8 as well, with thin bezels at the top and bottom and an all-glass enclosure. Flip it over and you’ll find a dual camera and a fingerprint sensor, still unfortunately positioned to the right of the camera. The corners of the device are slightly squarer than the S8+, but unless you compare them side by side, it’s very difficult to tell the two phones apart.

Note 8 performance, features, and storage

Samsung Note8Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
An S Pen slot, USB-C port, and headphone jack are all present on the Samsung Note 8.

The Note 8 is powered by the same Snapdragon 835 chip that’s inside the Galaxy S8. It does, however, have 6GB of RAM, an increase over the S8’s standard 4GB. As far as storage goes, the Note 8 comes with the same 64GB of internal storage as the S8 and keeps the microSD card slot as well for expansion up to 256GB. It also has IP68 water resistance, support for fast wireless charging, and a headphone jack.

Note 8 battery

After last year’s exploding batteries spurred a global recall, Samsung is playing it a little conservative with the Note 8. The handset features a 3,300m Ah battery, which is smaller than the S8+ and the Note 7, both of which sport 3,500 mAh batteries. Additionally, Samsung is running Note 8s through the same rigorous 8-point battery safety check that it implemented for the S8, and has established a partnership with UL to certify the Note 8 complies with the firm’s specific standards. All of which is to say, the Note 8 should be safe to take on an airplane.

Note 8 camera

Samsung Note8Adam Patrick Murray/IDG
The Note8 packs a dual camera with  optical image stabalization in both lenses.

Samsung has seriously upgraded the camera in the Note 8, adding a second lens on the back for its first dual-camera Galaxy phone. Both lenses have the same Dual Pixel 12MP sensor, but the main “wide” lens has an aperture of f/1.7 while the secondary telephoto lens offers 2X optical zoom but a slower f/2.4 aperture. Samsung has added optical image stabilization (OIS) to both lenses as well, a first for a smartphone (competitors only offer OIS on the main camera).

Check out our quick camera hands-on below:

Galaxy Note8 dual camera hands-on

As expected, an iPhone 7 Plus-like portrait mode is the key feature of the Note 8’s dual-camera system, but Samsung takes it a step further with Live Focus, a feature that uses both camera to create depth-of-field bokeh effects. Inside the camera app you’ll find a slider that lets you adjust the amount of background blur in your shot, both before and after you snap it. Apple’s phone doesn’t offer this level of depth-of-field control.

Note 8 FAQ

Does the Note 8 run Android 8?

Not yet. The Note 8 ships with the Samsung Experience based on Android Nougat 7.1.1. However, Google has said it is working with Samsung to get some of its handsets updated to Oreo before the end of the year.

Will it support Daydream?

It should. Google added Daydream support for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in July, and since the Note has the same WQHD+ Super AMOLED display, it should be technically able to run Daydream right out of the box.

But I can use Note 8 with my old Gear VR headset right?

Actually, no. The slightly bigger screen means the Note 8 is incompatible with the older Gear VR headsets, so Samsung is selling a new one to accommodate it.

Can I use it to watch Netflix HDR shows?

It’s unclear. While the Note 8 is HDR certified by the 4K Alliance just like the Galaxy S8, the Netflix app only supports two phones for HDR playback: the LG G6 and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. Presumably, an update will bring HDR support at some point soon, but neither Samsung nor Netflix have made an announcement.

The Apple TV 4K skates to where the puck was

apple tv 4k remote topdown

Among everything Apple announced at its press conference this week, the Apple TV 4K was the only one lacking a killer hook.

The new streaming box’s most noteworthy features are support for 4K HDR video—already table stakes in other high-end streaming boxes—and a faster processor for the Apple TV’s oft-neglected gaming features. The remote control got a slight redesign, perhaps to stop people from holding it wrong, and there’s gigabit ethernet instead of 10/100Mbps, but Apple introduced nothing on the hardware side to change the way we interact with our televisions.

The company did raise prices: The new Apple TV 4K costs $179, which is $30 more than the previous version (introduced in 2015). And while the two-year-old 1080p Apple TV is sticking around, it’ll carry the same $150 price tag that

This was an unusual segment in a presentation that otherwise focused on how Apple, in the words of worldwide marketing head Phil Schiller, tries to “skate to where the puck is going to be.” Schiller had just demoed the iPhone X, and was referring to a classic Wayne Gretzky quote as relayed by Steve Jobs a decade earlier. But while Apple’s new iPhone displayed foresight with its new approaches to security, augmented reality, and software design, the Apple TV is still playing catch-up.

All about VOD

The Apple TV 4K does have one unique angle: Beyond just Netflix and Amazon in 4K HDR, iTunes will offer movie purchases and rentals in the new format, and they’ll cost the same in 4K HDR as they do in HD. For purchases, prices should be around $20 per film, rather than the $25 or $30 per film that other stores charge currently. For rentals, the price will likely be around $5 per film instead of up to $10. Apple will also upgrade iTunes users’ existing HD purchases to 4K HDR at no extra charge, provided the films are available in the new format.

new appletv hummingbird 4k hdr comparisonApple
4K HDR does make a noticeable difference—especially on the HDR side.

4K HDR, with its crisper images and more vivid colors, is a genuine leap forward in video quality, so this might give some owners of the requisite 4K HDR televisions an incentive to buy. But for most people, it won’t register as a major benefit for a few reasons:

First, Apple hasn’t said how many 4K HDR titles it’ll have for purchase or upgrade, but we can probably get an idea by looking at other services. Vudu offers 121 movies in Ultra HD, compared to more than 24,000 films in standard or high definition, while FandangoNow lists 197 Ultra HD films, so it’s safe to assume most movies will remain in HD for a while. Disney has also indicated that it won’t offer 4K HDR movies on iTunes at all.

Second, digital purchases and rentals make up a small fraction of what people spend on video, especially compared to subscription streaming. Survey data supplied by Parks Associates shows that U.S. households on average spent less than $1 per month each for video purchases and rentals in Q3 2016, which is the last time Parks gathered this data. Those figures—which include both TV shows and movies—have been steadily declining over the past five years, while subscription streaming expenditure is sharply rising. Surveyed households spent around $8 per month on average for services like Netflix in Q3 2016.

parksdataParks Associates

Finally, the $179 Apple TV 4K is about $90 pricier than the Roku Premiere+ and about $110 pricier than the Chromecast Ultra. Rumored 4K HDR Fire TV devices from Amazon are expected to be much cheaper than the Apple TV 4K as well. That means the idea of saving money on 4K HDR iTunes movies rings a bit hollow.

At best, then, Apple’s pricing and upgrades create a modest Apple TV purchase incentive for 4K HDR TV owners. But given the dearth of available 4K HDR titles, the shortage of interest in digital movie purchases, and the strong preference among consumers for lower-cost streaming devices, selling discounted 4K HDR movies through iTunes isn’t a huge selling point overall.

(Still) not too late

The Apple TV can still redeem itself, and you can see some signs of foresight if you squint hard enough. As part of this week’s press conference, Apple announced support for live news and sports in its TV app, which aggregates video from various streaming apps into a single guide. ESPN, MLB, NBA, CNN, and Bloomberg are on board as early supporters.

The TV app is the Apple TV’s most forward-thinking feature.

In its current form, the TV app still seems like it’s searching for an audience. Antenna-friendly services like Tablo, Plex, and Channels aren’t supported, nor is Netflix, making it a tough sell for many cord-cutters. For streaming bundles like Sling TV and DirecTV Now, the patchy nature of TV Everywhere app support means you can’t reliably use the TV app in place of those bundles’ own apps. And the limited support for single sign-in among major cable providers means that using Apple TV instead of a cable box can be a hassle.

Yet with live sports and news, the TV app almost seems evermore like scaffolding for an Apple streaming bundle. Instead of creating an entirely new interface, Apple could just tie into TV Everywhere apps and embed its bundle directly into the Apple TV’s main menu, which also integrates with standalone services like Amazon Video and Crunchyroll. This sort of solution would be unique to the Apple TV, and could provide an easy off ramp from cable for many more people.

This is all just speculation, though, and 4K HDR has little to do with it. Compared to what cheaper streaming devices offer already, the Apple TV 4K’s namesake feature is only a minor perk for the small percentage of people who haven’t left Apple’s video ecosystem. Wherever the puck is going, it’s unlikely to travel through iTunes.