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Popular chat app ToTok is reportedly secret United Arab Emirates spying tool – The Verge

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A report from The New York Times has revealed that messaging app ToTok, popular in the United Arab Emirates, is in fact a government spy tool, created for the benefit of UAE intelligence officials and used to track citizens’ conversations and movements.

ToTok launched earlier this year and has been downloaded by millions in the UAE, a nation where Western messaging apps like WhatsApp and Skype are partially blocked. It promised “fast, free, and secure” messages and calls, and attracted users across the Middle East and beyond, even becoming one of the most downloaded social apps in the US last week.

But, citing classified briefings from US intelligence officials and its own analysis, the NYT reports that ToTok is really a way for the UAE government to spy directly on its people. Citizens who used the app were sharing messages, pictures and videos, and even their location (supposedly being tracked to provide weather updates) with Emirati intelligence.

The Times notes that this is something of a new development in the history of digital spying by authoritarian regimes. Although many governments routinely hack citizens’ phones, not many set up an ostensibly legitimate app and simply ask for access to their data.

“There is a beauty in this approach,” security researcher Patrick Wardle, who conducted an independent forensic analysis of ToTok, told the Times. “You don’t need to hack people to spy on them if you can get people to willingly download this app to their phone. By uploading contacts, video chats, location, what more intelligence do you need?”

The Times reports that the company that runs ToTok, Breej Holding, is most likely a front for Abu Dhabi-based cybersecurity firm DarkMatter. The app is also connected to UAE data-mining firm Pax AI, which shares offices with the Emirates’ signals intelligence agency.

Breej Holding, DarkMatter, and the UAE government have yet to comment on the Times report, but both Google and Apple have removed ToTok from the Play Store and App Store. The FBI also refused to comment, but a spokesperson for the bureau told the Times: “[W]hile the FBI does not comment on specific apps, we always want to make sure to make users aware of the potential risks and vulnerabilities that these mechanisms can pose.”

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Everything We Expect at Samsung Unpacked, From Galaxy Z Fold 4 to Galaxy Watch 5 – CNET

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Samsung’s next Galaxy Unpacked event is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 10. We expect to see several new versions of the company’s flagship foldable phones and smartwatches to be revealed — but there’s always a chance for surprise launches of new devices.

The event invitation seen above, showing a Z Flip foldable phone, suggests we’ll see new versions of Samsung’s foldables. That fits with a previous leak from tipster Evan Blass predicting new versions of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the clamshell Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, which came out in August 2021. 


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Everything We Expect Samsung to Announce

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Don’t expect too many big advances with Samsung’s next foldables. Rumors suggest the tablet-size Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 may have a new hinge and slimmer build, but the leaker jury is out on whether it will include an S Pen slot like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Other rumors predict that the foldable will pack the faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Plus chipset, as well as a larger outer display that requires its own under-display camera to complement the one on the inner screen.  

The makeup compact-looking Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 could get a larger cover display, according to other rumors, which could make it far more useful for reading notifications and previewing selfie photos. 

Even if the new foldables have only incremental spec upgrades, the biggest improvement could be price. The Galaxy Fold 3 was cheaper than its predecessor at $1,800 (£1,599, AU$2,499) to start, which is still around twice as expensive as most premium smartphones. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 shockingly came in at $1,000 (£949, AU$1,499), or around the price of an iPhone 13 Pro, making it the most affordable foldable yet and a viable alternative to standard flat smartphones. 

But the upcoming Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 could be even cheaper, predicts analyst Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, who tweeted that Samsung ramped up production to churn out twice as many of the new foldables as last year’s models, suggesting a possible price cut. 

Read more: Here’s One Feature Samsung Could Use to One-Up Apple

In any case, we expect the new foldables to sell well, since the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 sold more units in their launch month than were sold in all of 2020. With 88% of the more than 7 million foldables sold in 2021, Samsung is in a strong position to continue dominating the niche foldable market, which is expected to grow to over 27 million sold in 2025.

Samsung could launch other products to accompany the foldables, and the most likely is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. Rumors predict the next version of the premium smartwatch line could get a body temperature sensor and better battery life, as well as an updated design. Hopefully, it will also fix a glaring flaw in the Galaxy Watch 4 — no support for iPhones — as well as better integration of Wear OS 3, as we felt last year’s watch pulled between Google and Samsung’s ecosystems

There are other things Samsung could show off, like successors to the Galaxy Buds 2 earbud, tablets or laptops, but we haven’t heard many rumors suggesting any of those are likely to arrive. Still, we could easily be surprised with all eyes on the awaited foldables.

To encourage customers to reserve their phones early, from July 19 until August 10, Samsung is offering an extensive list of discounts based on different bundles, from a maximum of $200 off for those reserving a Galaxy phone, watch, and buds down to a minimum of $30 off for just reserving Galaxy buds. While this could be a hint at what’s coming at Unpacked, the savings could apply to older Galaxy Watch or Galaxy Buds models.

The event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET / 6 a.m. PT. CNET will be watching and covering the reveals.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event: start time and how to watch – The Verge

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Samsung Galaxy Unpacked is set to begin on Wednesday, August 10th.

Leading up to the event, Samsung has left us with breadcrumbs about what they’re going to announce at their Galaxy Unpacked event. Leaks and other clues have revealed that Samsung may be announcing an updated foldable to match last year’s announcement and release.

We also have a guess that there might be some new Galaxy Watches to announce as Samsung released a reservation for a trade-in for the Galaxy smartphone, smartwatch, and earbuds.

When does the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event take place?

The Samsung Galaxy event is set to take place on Wednesday, August 10th, 2022, at 6AM PT / 9AM ET.

Where can I watch the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event?

We will have the livestream video embedded up top, so you can stick around here to watch when it begins. Otherwise, you can tune in to the Galaxy Unpacked livestream at Samsung.com, Samsung’s Newsroom, and Samsung’s YouTube channel.

We here at The Verge will also be covering the event. Be sure to follow @verge on Twitter and @verge on Instagram for live updates and other Samsung news.

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Samsung Galaxy Unpacked: How to watch Samsung announce its latest foldable phones – ZDNet

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Image: Samsung

On Wednesday, Samsung is expected to announce new foldable phones, wireless earbuds, and a new Galaxy Watch. If all of the leaks and rumors are true, that means we’ll see the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Z Flip 4, Buds 2 Pro and the Galaxy Watch 5 (and maybe even a Pro model). 

Who knows, Samsung could have other products lined up for announcement. We simply won’t know what all it entails until the livestream ends. 

When is Samsung Galaxy Unpacked?

The event kicks off early Wednesday, Aug. 10, with the livestream starting at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT. There isn’t an in-person element to the event as companies continue to stick to a virtual-only approach for product announcements. 

Here are the different international times for your reference:

  • New York: 9 a.m. ET
  • San Francisco: 6 a.m. PT
  • London: 2 p.m. GMT
  • Berlin: 3 p.m. CET
  • Mumbai: 9:30 p.m. IT
  • Tokyo: 11 a.m. JT Jan. 15
  • Sydney: 1 a.m. AEDT Jan. 15

How to what Samsung Galaxy Unpacked

If you want to tune in and watch the announcements as they’re made, then you’re in luck. Samsung is broadcasting the livestream across several different platforms. Here’s everywhere you can watch the official stream:

What to expect from Samsung Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung itself has dropped some major hints about what to expect from the announcement. Certainly, there are new foldable phones — likely the Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 — on tap to be announced. 

In addition to the new phones, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch5 appears set to get an upgrade, with a new Watch5 Pro model, which early leaks indicate will be more rugged and more of a competitor to Garmin’s line of smartwatches. 

Finally, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro appear primed for an upgrade with the Buds 2 Pro adding new active noise cancellation features and a refreshed design to the company’s completely wireless earbuds. 

We’ll have full event coverage as Samsung’s latest Galaxy Unpacked event kicks off bright and early on Wednesday, Aug. 10. 

What’s something you’re hoping to see Samsung announce during the event? Let us know in the comments below.

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