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The iPad is still an iPad, even with a Magic Keyboard – The Verge



I’m writing this newsletter out to you on the new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro. I used to not be able to write the newsletter with the iPad — my process unfortunately involves dealing directly with HTML code because my newsletter provider hasn’t seen fit to update its version of the CKEditor WYSIWYG since 2014. Now I can, and I think the reason why is interesting for anybody who wants to push their iPad to do more.

No, the Magic Keyboard hasn’t magically solved these problems. Instead, it has made the things the iPad already does somewhat nicer. The iPad with iPadOS remains the most enjoyable computer I use right up to the point where I need to do something complicated, at which point it becomes something else entirely.

On a traditional computer, solving a complicated problem is a matter of searching around the internet until you discover a new ability or find a fix. It might be beyond your skills, but you rarely are stopped cold.

On the iPad, the first step isn’t necessarily looking for the solution itself, but looking to see if you’re even allowed to do the thing you need to do. For me, it was inspecting HTML source code for particular elements on a web page, which Safari doesn’t let you do.

Some of you are reading the previous sentence and scoffing that I’d ever ask an iPad to do such a thing. Others are wondering why I don’t just switch newsletter providers or find some other solution that gets around this limitation.

All valid points, but I’m obstinate. I have a process that works on Windows, another for macOS, and yet another on ChromeOS. I wasn’t going to let the iPad beat me.

But more to the point, Apple is obstinate — in ways both good and bad. Obstinately refusing to just copy over all the stuff I think I want from a desktop operating system means that the iPad won’t just get used like a desktop OS (which is what happens with the Surface).

On the other hand, sometimes that obstinacy means it’s hard to know if the iPad will allow you to do something advanced in the first place. There are rules against apps running certain types of code, for example, which makes it a challenging device for app developers to use. Was my HTML problem one of those kinds of issues, or was it just something Apple hasn’t gotten around to adding yet — like when it added USB drive support?

I think the answer might be both? It turns out that there is a Siri Shortcut — the system for automating certain tasks on the iPad — that lets you grab source code. From there, it was a matter of teaching myself some Siri Shortcut methods then a lot of trial and error. I think hiding what is a core browser function on every other platform inside the iPad’s macro app is loopy, but at least it worked.

What does all of this have to do with the Magic Keyboard? Simply this: I think a lot of the pent-up demand for it and its trackpad is actually pent-up demand to see if the iPad can finally be made to do things that it still struggles to do today.

I reviewed the Magic Keyboard yesterday and I think it’s incredibly well-made. The trackpad has made manipulating text ten times easier than before, which has in turn made the iPad Pro much more useful to me in situations where I would want to use it like a laptop.

But I never expected the Magic Keyboard to …magically make some of the limitations I’ve run into on the iPad go away, and neither should you. Sometimes new hardware, even if it has new features like a trackpad, doesn’t unlock new features. Instead, it can just make your experience a little less annoying.

As I noted in the review, I think Apple could have made different design choices that might have helped the Magic Keyboard do more than make using the iPad as a laptop nicer. I think it makes a better keyboard dock than a mobile keyboard case.

For $299 or $349, I think you should get much more than a keyboard dock. I’d like to say that another company will come in and offer something more versatile for a lower price, but I am not holding my breath. The lack of third-party iPad Pro accessories that take advantage of the Smart Connector remains one of the weird mysteries in consumer tech — one that I think will never get solved.

Gadget news

Microsoft prepares to launch Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2. If these reports pan out, it could mean that Microsoft wants to take on the MacBook Pro even more directly for the pro market.

HP’s redesigned Envy laptops take a cue from the excellent Spectre x360.

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Lite will launch in the US on April 17th for $650. This looks … well this looks less good in the wake of the iPhone SE announcement.

Apple is tweaking how MacBooks charge to extend battery lifespan. I love this because it lets me noodle on what symbols mean, my favorite pastime. Now the full battery icon in your menu bar won’t mean your battery has “the maximum possible charge,” but instead “the maximum charge that’s less likely to harm your MacBook’s longevity, based on your computer’s best interpretation of your recent charging and use habits.” What amuses me is that I don’t think the second one is more complicated than the first one, because semiotics. I’d explain but my boss Nilay would take the newsletter away if I went on.

LG teases new 5G Velvet phone with ‘raindrop’ camera.


The new Moto G Stylus and G Power are surprisingly adept cameraphones. Cameron Faulkner is impressed with the cameras in his review. At $250, you’d expect a lot worse.

LG V60 Dual Screen review: V for versatility. Chris Welch reviews LG’s flagship. There really are a lot of unique things you can do here: Headphone jack! Dual screen! Stylus support! It’s a list of priorities that other phone makers ignore — though maybe that’s because those features don’t sell phones. But Welch says this thing has stellar battery life (at the cost of screen quality), and battery life is definitely a good way to sell phones.

More from The Verge

Fandango just purchased Vudu from Walmart to better compete against Amazon, iTunes. Walmart hasn’t been the best steward, but it also let Vudu find its niche with premium video quality. Dearly hoping that Fandango and its parent company (which, disclosure, has invested in our parent company) doesn’t mess this one up.

Offshore drilling has dug itself a deeper hole since Deepwater Horizon. On the ten-year anniversary of the spill, Justine Calma looks at the current state of offshore drilling:

Drilling at new depths unlocks untapped oil reserves and has become easier with newer technologies. But those opportunities come with greater dangers and less margin for error, experts tell The Verge. “The lesson from Deepwater Horizon is [that] at the same time that the technology for extraction was progressing very rapidly — I mean it’s quite amazing actually what they’ve been able to do — the technology for safety lagged,” says Donald Boesch, president emeritus of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.

Lo-fi beats to quarantine to are booming on YouTube. Julia Alexander looks at a rising trend right now:

“Without a dedicated workspace, people find it challenging to get into a flow and are easily distracted, especially when surrounded by distractions at home,” Pritchard said. “The sudden growth of lo-fi live streams, in my opinion, is clearly representative of that struggle and people seeking to find means to get back into a productive workflow and really focus on the tasks at hand.”

How engineers are operating deep-space probes, Martian rovers, and satellites from their homes. Imagine running NASA’s projects from a chat app like Slack. Must be a nightmare! Loren Grush looks into how they do it:

Now, that entire routine has been moved online. She says she has about 15 to 20 chat rooms open for all of the engineers and rover planners — not to mention telecons with scientists across the country. “The level of intensity has gone up because you’re kind of always watching things,” Bridge says. “I’m also not exercising anymore,” she jokes. “I used to walk around, and now I’m staring at a computer station for hours on end without moving.”

Microsoft launches ‘Plasma Bot’ to recruit recovered COVID-19 patients to help treat sick ones.

Sewer systems are a window into the coronavirus pandemic. This story from Nicole Wetsman is some good shit.

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Rumor: Alleged 2021 5.5-inch iPhone prototype shows notchless screen and USB-C port – 9to5Mac



A new mock-up of the 5.5-inch 2021 iPhone has been shared by Macotakara today that suggests a notchless screen and USB-C instead of a Lightning port (or nor port at all) could be in the works. The prototype also shows what could be a different camera setup compared to what we’re expecting on the iPhone 12 later this year.

At the end of last year, we learned that Ming-Chi Kuo expects the highest-end 2021 iPhone to be a fully wireless device, ditching the Lightning port and also skipping the USB-C port. However, today’s alleged 5.5-inch 2021 iPhone prototype shared by Macotakara suggests that the entry-level model could make the switch to USB-C along with a notchless screen.

This 2021 iPhone mock-up was made based on data from Alibaba, so it’s worth taking this rumor with grain of salt.

A 5.5-inch 2021 iPhone likely means it would be the entry model based on what we’re expecting for the 2020 iPhone lineup, with the more affordable iPhone 12 models coming in 5.4- and 6.1-inch sizes and the iPhone 12 Pro landing with 6.1- and 6.7-inch displays. Macotakara does mention that this is just one prototype that Apple is considering so naturally, there’s no guarantee this design and features will make it to market.

Macotakara says the case dimensions of this prototype are the same as the 5.4-inch 2020 iPhone but with a slightly larger screen at 5.5-inches. However, one interesting part of this prototype would be the entry-level 2021 iPhone gaining what could be a 3 or 4 camera setup. One major way Apple has differentiated its iPhone lineup is with camera hardware and features, like the 11 Pro having an additional lens over the iPhone 11.

Apple has been working toward a making iPhone with a “single slab of glass” design for many years. The iPhone X display design is still seen today in the iPhone 11 lineup (expected in the iPhone 12 series too) so removing the notch totally that houses the Face ID components and TrueDepth camera would be a big step forward in the screen to body ratio and Apple evolving the iPhone display’s design.

The iPhone 12 lineup may feature slightly smaller notches but if this prototype does turn out to ring true, the entire 2021 iPhone lineup would likely go notchless if the 5.5-inch entry-level model did.

The Macotakara video below suggests that Apple could launch its first under-screen front-facing camera with the 2021 iPhone lineup to make this potential notchless design happen.

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Google Faces Privacy Lawsuit Over Tracking Users in Incognito Mode – Threatpost



A $5 billion class-action lawsuit filed in a California federal court alleges that Google’s Chrome incognito mode collects browser data without people’s knowledge or consent.

Google faces a $5 billion class-action lawsuit over claims that it has been collecting people’s browsing information without their knowledge even when using the incognito browsing mode that’s meant to keep their online activities private.

The lawsuit, filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, alleges that Google compiles user data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins, including smartphone apps, regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads, according to a report in Reuters.

Google uses this data to learn about private browsing habits of Chrome users, ranging from seemingly innocuous data that can be used for ad-targeting—such as information about hobbies, interests and favorite foods—to the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” that people may search for online, according to the complaint.

Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint said, according to the report.

The technology problem at the root of the report is a feature called incognito mode in the Chrome browser, which ironically is one that is supposed to protect people when surfing the internet. Chrome users can turn on incognito mode to protect their browsing history, sessions and cookies from websites that want to use this information for marketing or ad-targeting purposes.

Google Chrome incognito modeHowever, the feature has long had a problem in that even when using their mode, people’s activity has still been detectable by websites “for years” due to a FileSystem API implementation, Google Chrome developer Paul Irish tweeted last year.

Though Google said it implemented the FileSystem API in a different way in Chrome 76, released last year, the problem persists even in the latest version of Chrome 83, which was released last month, according to a report filed Thursday in ZDNet.

It is still possible to detect incognito mode in Chrome–as well as other Chromium-based browsers, such as Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave, which share the core of Chrome’s codebase, according to the report, which said Google still has not set a timeframe to fix the issue.

Developers even have taken the Chrome codebase scripts to expand the ability of websites to block incognito mode users from browsing, expanding it to other browsers that don’t use the same code base, including Firefox and Safari, the report said.

Ironically, the problem that’s put Google in legal hot water is nearly the same as the one the company accused browser rival Apple of having earlier this year in its Safari browser.

In January, Google researchers said they identified a number of security flaws in Safari’s private-browsing feature—called Intelligent Tracking Protection–that allow people’s browsing behavior to be tracked by third parties. Apple responded by saying it had already fixed the flaws in an update to Webkit technology in Safari.

Search-engine rival Duck Duck Go used news of the class-action suit as an opportunity to laud its own technology, which it offers as an alternative to Google search as a way to allow people to search and use the web privately.

“Incognito mode isn’t private. It never was.” the company said on Twitter. “DuckDuckGo is private. Will always be.”

Longtime Google critic, author, psychologist and researcher for the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology Dr. Robert Epstein also took to Twitter to reiterate his longstanding public opinion over Google’s privacy violations.

#Google #Surveillance & Advertising just got sued for $5 BILLION for lying about its bogus ‘incognito’ mode on its Chrome browser,” he tweeted. “As I’ve always said, you’re STILL being tracked when you’re in that mode.”

The current case against the technology giant is Brown et al v Google LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 20-03664. The New York-based law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner is representing the plaintiffs in the class-action suit, Chasom Brown, Maria Nguyen and William Byatt.

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Apple must face U.S. shareholder lawsuit over CEO's iPhone, China comments – CANOE



A federal judge said Apple Inc must face part of a lawsuit claiming it fraudulently concealed falling demand for iPhones, especially in China, leading to tens of billions of dollars in shareholder losses.

While dismissing most claims, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled late Tuesday that shareholders can sue over Chief Executive Tim Cook’s comments touting strong iPhone demand on a Nov. 1, 2018 analyst call, only a few days before Apple told its largest manufacturers to curb production.

“Absent some natural disaster or other intervening reason, it is simply implausible that Cook would not have known that iPhone demand in China was falling mere days before cutting production lines,” Rogers wrote.

The Oakland, California-based judge also said a decision by Apple to stop reporting iPhone unit sales “plausibly suggests that defendants expected unit sales to decline.”

Apple did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.

The complaint, led by the Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Rhode Island, came after Cook on Jan. 2, 2019 unexpectedly reduced Apple’s quarterly revenue forecast by up to $9 billion, in part because of U.S.-China trade tensions.

It was the first time since the iPhone’s 2007 launch that the Cupertino, California-based company had cut its revenue forecast. Apple stock fell 10% the next day, erasing $74 billion of market value.

Cook had said on the analyst call that the iPhone XS and XS Max had a “really great start,” and that while some emerging markets faced downward sales pressures “I would not put China in that category.”

By mid-November 2018, Apple had told the manufacturers Foxconn and Pagatron to halt plans for new iPhone production lines, and a key supplier had been told to materially reduce shipments, the complaint said.

The case is In re Apple Inc Securities Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 19-02033.

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