iTunes Backup Passwords ‘Much Easier’ to Crack in iOS 10, Apple Working on Fix

iOS 10 uses a new password verification mechanism for iTunes backups that makes them easier to crack, according to testing performed by Elcomsoft, a company that specializes in software designed to access iPhone data.

Encrypted iTunes backups create…

iOS 10 uses a new password verification mechanism for iTunes backups that makes them easier to crack, according to testing performed by Elcomsoft, a company that specializes in software designed to access iPhone data.

Encrypted iTunes backups created on a Mac or PC are protected by a password that can potentially be brute forced by password cracking software. The backup method in iOS 10 “skips certain security checks,” allowing Elcomsoft to try backup passwords “approximately 2500 times faster” compared to iOS 9 and earlier operating systems.

ios10

Obtaining the password for an iTunes backup provides access to all data on the phone, including that stored in Keychain, which holds all of a user’s passwords and other sensitive information.

At this time, we have an early implementation featuring CPU-only recovery. The new security check is approximately 2,500 times weaker compared to the old one that was used in iOS 9 backups. At this time, we are getting these speeds:

iOS 9 (CPU): 2,400 passwords per second (Intel i5)

iOS 9 (GPU): 150,000 passwords per second (NVIDIA GTX 1080)

iOS 10 (CPU): 6,000,000 passwords per second (Intel i5)

In specific terms, security analyst Per Thorsheim of Peerlyst says Apple has switched from using a PBKDF2 hashing algorithm with 10,000 iterations to using a SHA256 algorithm with a single iteration, allowing for a significant speed increase when brute forcing a password.

ios10passwordcrackingelcomsoft

Image via Peerlyst


In a statement given to Forbes, Apple confirmed it is aware of the issue and is working on a fix.
“We’re aware of an issue that affects the encryption strength for backups of devices on iOS 10 when backing up to iTunes on the Mac or PC. We are addressing this issue in an upcoming security update. This does not affect iCloud backups,” a spokesperson said. “We recommend users ensure their Mac or PC are protected with strong passwords and can only be accessed by authorized users. Additional security is also available with FileVault whole disk encryption.”

As Apple points out, this security oversight is limited to backups created on a Mac or PC and does not affect the security of iCloud backups. Most users likely do not need to worry about this issue as it requires access to the Mac or PC that was used to make the backup.

Apple has updates for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra in the works, and it’s possible a fix will be included in the new versions of the software. iOS 10.1 and macOS Sierra 10.12.1 were seeded to developers and public beta testers earlier this week.

Related Roundup: iOS 10

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Snapchat Announces ‘Spectacles,’ $130 Sunglasses That Record 10 Seconds of Video at a Time

Snapchat has announced its first hardware product, a one-size-fits-all pair of sunglasses called Spectacles that can record 10 seconds of video at a time, reports The Wall Street Journal. The glasses will cost $130 and launch this fall in three colors: teal, black and coral. Video will sync wirelessly to a paired iPhone or other smartphone.

spectaclesSnap CEO Evan Spiegel in Spectacles, Photo by The WSJ

The glasses record when you tap a button near the hinge, and each tap records 10 seconds of video footage from its 115-degree-angle lens. The lens was designed to be wider than smartphone cameras, more closely mirroring the natural view of human eyes. The video is recorded in a circular format, as Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel argues that the square and rectangle form that photos and videos currently come in are a vestige of early photos being printed on paper.

Snapchat has been developing Spectacles for years, and Spiegel has been testing the device himself for a year. He tells The WSJ that one of the advantages of Spectacles is not having to hold a smartphone in front of your face because it’s “like a wall.” Re-watching first-person footage is like reliving a memory, Spiegel argues.

He remembers testing a prototype in early 2015 while hiking with his fiancée, supermodel Miranda Kerr. “It was our first vacation, and we went to Big Sur for a day or two. We were walking through the woods, stepping over logs, looking up at the beautiful trees. And when I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes—it was unbelievable. It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.”

Spiegel refers to Spectacles as a “toy,” and that the best use of it would be to wear it at an outdoor concert or barbecue “for kicks.” The company is taking a slow approach to launch with limited distribution, similar to Google Glass. Spiegel says Snapchat wants to “figure out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.” When asked why they made the product and decided to enter the hardware market, Spiegel said “because it’s fun.”

Snapchat has also changed its company name to Snap, Inc as it has expanded its portfolio past its Snapchat app, similar to how Apple changed its name from Apple Computer.

Spiegel thinks of the newly-dubbed Snap, Inc as a camera company rather than a social media company, The WSJ notes. He studied the early histories of Kodak and Polaroid and how they pitched portable cameras to the public. Spectacles gives Snap control of a physical camera, bypassing the smartphone cameras, like that of the iPhone, at the heart of Snapchat thus far. Spiegel hints to The WSJ that there could be “far-reaching implications” if Snap controlled the hardware its users take pictures and video with.

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Snapchat has announced its first hardware product, a one-size-fits-all pair of sunglasses called Spectacles that can record 10 seconds of video at a time, reports The Wall Street Journal. The glasses will cost $130 and launch this fall in three colors: teal, black and coral. Video will sync wirelessly to a paired iPhone or other smartphone.

spectacles

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel in Spectacles, Photo by The WSJ


The glasses record when you tap a button near the hinge, and each tap records 10 seconds of video footage from its 115-degree-angle lens. The lens was designed to be wider than smartphone cameras, more closely mirroring the natural view of human eyes. The video is recorded in a circular format, as Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel argues that the square and rectangle form that photos and videos currently come in are a vestige of early photos being printed on paper.

Snapchat has been developing Spectacles for years, and Spiegel has been testing the device himself for a year. He tells The WSJ that one of the advantages of Spectacles is not having to hold a smartphone in front of your face because it’s “like a wall.” Re-watching first-person footage is like reliving a memory, Spiegel argues.

He remembers testing a prototype in early 2015 while hiking with his fiancée, supermodel Miranda Kerr. “It was our first vacation, and we went to Big Sur for a day or two. We were walking through the woods, stepping over logs, looking up at the beautiful trees. And when I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes—it was unbelievable. It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.”

Spiegel refers to Spectacles as a “toy,” and that the best use of it would be to wear it at an outdoor concert or barbecue “for kicks.” The company is taking a slow approach to launch with limited distribution, similar to Google Glass. Spiegel says Snapchat wants to “figure out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.” When asked why they made the product and decided to enter the hardware market, Spiegel said “because it’s fun.”

Snapchat has also changed its company name to Snap, Inc as it has expanded its portfolio past its Snapchat app, similar to how Apple changed its name from Apple Computer.

Spiegel thinks of the newly-dubbed Snap, Inc as a camera company rather than a social media company, The WSJ notes. He studied the early histories of Kodak and Polaroid and how they pitched portable cameras to the public. Spectacles gives Snap control of a physical camera, bypassing the smartphone cameras, like that of the iPhone, at the heart of Snapchat thus far. Spiegel hints to The WSJ that there could be “far-reaching implications” if Snap controlled the hardware its users take pictures and video with.

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Apple to Offer ‘Spoken Editions’ of Written News on iTunes

Apple is planning on turning news stories and articles from popular news sites into audio podcasts called “Spoken Editions,” reports TechCrunch. Spoken Editions will be short broadcasts that transform content from publishers into spoken word instead of…

Apple is planning on turning news stories and articles from popular news sites into audio podcasts called “Spoken Editions,” reports TechCrunch. Spoken Editions will be short broadcasts that transform content from publishers into spoken word instead of written word, making it possible for customers to listen to their favorite news sites.

An early leak on iTunes suggests Apple has already teamed up with several publishers, including Wired, TIME, and Forbes, offering dedicated “Spoken Edition” sections on company iTunes pages.

spokeneditions

Wired, for example, will launch Spoken Editions for “Business,” “Science,” and its homepage. TIME has will offer a Spoken Edition called “The Brief.” Forbes, .Mic, Bustle, Playboy, OZY, and – yep – TechCrunch (which I discovered while browsing our iTunes page, of all things), will have Spoken Editions, it seems, as all popped up for a time on iTunes.

The links to all the publishers’ Spoken Editions have since been pulled, after our discovery and outreach.

Some digging by TechCrunch suggests many of the publishers’ Spoken Edition podcasts were created by SpokenLayer, a company that creates streaming audio and podcasts for media brands using text. SpokenLayer already works with a host of publishers like Forbes, Huffington Post, TIME, Reuters, and more, with audio recordings distributed on iTunes, SoundCloud, and other sources.

Spoken Editions will include audio ads, with revenue shared between the publisher and SpokenLayer, and the company makes an effort to make sure each brand sounds unique. “We make sure Wired sounds like Wired and any other publication sounds like those publications,” SpokenLayer CEO Will Mayo told TechCrunch.

Spoken Editions are set to launch soon, rolling out in early October.

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Apple Music Chief Eddy Cue Receives $60 Million Stock Award

Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, who oversees services like the iTunes Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Siri, iCloud, and Apple Maps, received nearly $60 million in company stock earlier this week, as scheduled, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed electronically today.

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Specifically, 525,000 of Cue’s restricted stock units converted into common shares on September 21, worth $59.6 million based on AAPL’s closing price of $113.55 on Wednesday. The shares represented the final 75% of 700,000 restricted stock units awarded to Cue in November 2011. The first 25% vested on September 21, 2014.

Cue was originally awarded 100,000 RSUs, but the compensation package became 700,000 RSUs when AAPL split 7-for-1 in June 2014.

256,305 shares were withheld by Apple to satisfy the minimum statutory tax withholding requirements on vesting of RSUs. Cue gifted the remaining 268,695 shares that vested, worth approximately $20.2 million, to a family trust as he did when 350,000 of his RSUs, worth $36.1 million at the time, vested in August 2015.

Cue joined Apple in 1989 and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services by Apple CEO Tim Cook in September 2011.

Tags: Eddy Cue, RSUs

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Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, who oversees services like the iTunes Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Siri, iCloud, and Apple Maps, received nearly $60 million in company stock earlier this week, as scheduled, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed electronically today.

1.jpg

Specifically, 525,000 of Cue’s restricted stock units converted into common shares on September 21, worth $59.6 million based on AAPL’s closing price of $113.55 on Wednesday. The shares represented the final 75% of 700,000 restricted stock units awarded to Cue in November 2011. The first 25% vested on September 21, 2014.

Cue was originally awarded 100,000 RSUs, but the compensation package became 700,000 RSUs when AAPL split 7-for-1 in June 2014.

256,305 shares were withheld by Apple to satisfy the minimum statutory tax withholding requirements on vesting of RSUs. Cue gifted the remaining 268,695 shares that vested, worth approximately $20.2 million, to a family trust as he did when 350,000 of his RSUs, worth $36.1 million at the time, vested in August 2015.

Cue joined Apple in 1989 and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services by Apple CEO Tim Cook in September 2011.

Tags: Eddy Cue, RSUs

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Apple Reportedly Looking to Open Flagship Store at Washington, DC’s Carnegie Library

Apple has proposed opening a flagship retail store and events center at Washington, D.C.’s historic Carnegie Library, according to The Washington Post. The new store is reportedly reminiscent of Apple’s Union Square store in San Francisco, serving as both a retail outlet for the company and event center where it can host events for locals.

carnegielibraryPhoto by Bobak Ha’Eri

The 63,000-square foot Carnegie Library was one of the many buildings built with funds donated by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. The building, which was opened in 1903, is historically significant in the nation’s capital as it’s the first desegregated building in the city. Carnegie Library is publicly owned and funded with taxpayer money raised through hotel occupancy taxes.

However, the building’s historical legacy and importance to D.C. has made it a difficult development project. As The Washington Post notes, a local history museum only lasted a year at the library, a planned music museum never opened and an International Spy Museum was turned away by the city’s historical preservation panel.

Local government officials have been supportive of the idea, with The Post noting that an Apple retail presence in the area would punctuate a rapidly developing section of the city.

“Apple would be a huge attraction,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who represents downtown. Evans said he first heard about Apple’s idea for the store earlier this year and that the addition would accelerate momentum for an area that is quickly adding new apartments, shops and office buildings just south of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Of Apple’s handful of stores in D.C., its Georgetown store is the closest to the Carnegie Library. Across the Potomac, the Cupertino company also has Apple Clarendon and Apple Pentagon City. The Clarendon store will be having its grand reopening on September 24, while the Pentagon City store will close on September 25 for remodeling.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
Tag: WashingtonPost.com

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Apple has proposed opening a flagship retail store and events center at Washington, D.C.’s historic Carnegie Library, according to The Washington Post. The new store is reportedly reminiscent of Apple’s Union Square store in San Francisco, serving as both a retail outlet for the company and event center where it can host events for locals.

carnegielibrary

Photo by Bobak Ha’Eri


The 63,000-square foot Carnegie Library was one of the many buildings built with funds donated by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. The building, which was opened in 1903, is historically significant in the nation’s capital as it’s the first desegregated building in the city. Carnegie Library is publicly owned and funded with taxpayer money raised through hotel occupancy taxes.

However, the building’s historical legacy and importance to D.C. has made it a difficult development project. As The Washington Post notes, a local history museum only lasted a year at the library, a planned music museum never opened and an International Spy Museum was turned away by the city’s historical preservation panel.

Local government officials have been supportive of the idea, with The Post noting that an Apple retail presence in the area would punctuate a rapidly developing section of the city.

“Apple would be a huge attraction,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who represents downtown. Evans said he first heard about Apple’s idea for the store earlier this year and that the addition would accelerate momentum for an area that is quickly adding new apartments, shops and office buildings just south of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Of Apple’s handful of stores in D.C., its Georgetown store is the closest to the Carnegie Library. Across the Potomac, the Cupertino company also has Apple Clarendon and Apple Pentagon City. The Clarendon store will be having its grand reopening on September 24, while the Pentagon City store will close on September 25 for remodeling.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
Tag: WashingtonPost.com

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Hands-On With the New ‘Portrait’ Mode Beta Feature in the iPhone 7 Plus

When Apple announced the iPhone 7 Plus, one major feature it focused on was a new “Portrait” mode that allows the device’s camera to simulate a shallow depth of field effect, similar to what can be achieved with a high-end DSLR.

Portrait mode wasn’…

When Apple announced the iPhone 7 Plus, one major feature it focused on was a new “Portrait” mode that allows the device’s camera to simulate a shallow depth of field effect, similar to what can be achieved with a high-end DSLR.

Portrait mode wasn’t ready to go when the iPhone 7 Plus shipped, but Apple promised to introduce it at a later date and did so today, with the release of iOS 10.1. Available as a beta feature, Portrait mode is built into iOS 10.1, and we went hands-on with it to see how well it performs.

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Portrait mode uses the 56mm lens to capture the image and uses the wider 28mm lens to generate a depth map of a scene. Using the small differentiations between the 28mm and 56mm lenses, the iPhone separates the different layers of an image and uses machine learning techniques to apply a blur that simulates a shallow depth of field.

When shooting, Portrait is similar to other modes in the camera app, with a timer to take an image and a Tap to Focus tool to set the focus. One helpful feature is the ability to see the depth effect live before snapping a photo.

In order for the Portrait effect to work properly, you need good lighting and a subject that’s properly placed — it can’t be too close or too far away.

Portrait mode is in beta, and is currently only available for developers running iOS 10.1. This Friday, Apple will also make iOS 10.1 available for public beta testers, so Portrait mode will be more widely available. There are some issues and quirks that still need to be worked out during the beta testing process, but as a first effort, Portrait mode can produce some impressive images.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7

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Review: Kanex’s GoPower Watch Battery Provides Six Full Apple Watch Charges in a Small Package

Although Apple remains conservative regarding the battery life of the Apple Watch, many users have noted that the wearable device makes it through one day with plenty of charge left over in its 18-hour estimated life. Still, third-party power banks and portable chargers have been popular mainstays in the Apple Watch accessory line, and recently Kanex launched its own charging device for the Apple Watch, called the GoPower Watch.

Kanex’s charger is packed with a 4,000 mAh battery and a claim that, on a full charge, it can recharge the Apple Watch up to six times with an integrated inductive charger. As a bonus, the GoPower Watch also includes a USB port, letting you charge your iPhone (or any USB-powered device) simultaneously with the Apple Watch. There’s also priority charging, so your devices charge first and the battery pack second.

Design

Kanex’s GoPower Watch meets the form and function that any successful portable battery pack needs to be used on a daily basis. Its small 3-inch square will fit comfortably in a backpack, and the quartered LED lights — surrounding the only button on the housing — provide quick and easy reminders of how much juice is left in the pack.

kanex-review-4
The slightly raised inductive charger is surrounded by a smooth Space Gray material (admittedly, a few shades darker than Apple’s definition of Space Gray), that feels sturdy despite the small frame of the GoPower Watch. Interestingly, the actual inductive charger on Kanex’s device is a bit larger than Apple’s own inductive charger, but its added 1/4 of an inch appears negligible and doesn’t affect the charging of the device.

kanex-review-8GoPower Watch compared with Apple’s Magnetic Charger

Otherwise, the design is no-frills. The front and rear of the pack are made up of a black, plastic-type material that’s a bit more fingerprint-attractive than the Space Gray of the rest of the device. On the back users will find the micro-USB port to charge up the battery pack, and the USB Type-A port for smartphone charging. Anyone opposed to large branding on their products probably won’t like the prevalent Kanex logo on the front of the unit, however.


Charging the Apple Watch

After using Kanex’s GoPower Watch battery for a week, I found that the company’s claims of six full recharges on an Apple Watch to be right on the money. The battery pack uses a simple circle of lights, cut into four quarters, to display the remaining charge in its 4,000 mAh battery. The GoPower Watch lost its first quarter of battery in the middle of the third charge of my Apple Watch, and then finally lost the second quarter in the sixth Apple Watch charge.

kanex-review-5
From there the battery status declined quickly, and after the pack filled my Apple Watch up to 100% life for the sixth time, the final portion of the ring began flashing and the battery quickly died. During these tests I didn’t charge my iPhone, focusing first on the company’s own Apple Watch-heavy marketing for the accessory. And in that sense, the GoPower Watch delivered on its promises. The average charging time of all the tests was about 90 minutes.

If used solely as a power bank for an Apple Watch, Kanex’s device will easily provide its intended six full recharges on Apple’s wearable, although the larger battery on the Apple Watch Series 2 means those models might get slightly fewer charge cycles. Although that might be a bit of overkill for most casual Apple Watch wearers, the combination of the integrated inductive charger and deep well of battery life could justify the $99 price tag for those who find themselves away from a traditional power source on a consistent basis.

Charging the iPhone

After depleting the GoPower Watch during my Apple Watch tests, I topped off the battery pack again — a lengthy process that takes the large part of an afternoon, which is the case for most battery packs — and focused on the iPhone. With the GoPower Watch fully charged, I managed to recharge my iPhone 6s Plus from 10 percent to 99 percent charge over the course of about two hours, after which Kanex’s battery was down to 50 percent.

In a subsequent test, to see how much percentage I could add onto my iPhone with the rest of the GoPower Watch’s battery, the battery pack swiftly whittled down to 25 percent and then died, adding on about 15 percent charge to my iPhone. Considering the 2,750 mAh within the iPhone 6s Plus, one full charge with a little left over makes sense coming off of the GoPower Watch’s 4,000 mAh battery.

kanex-review-1
Although smaller smartphones could get more out of it, like the iPhone SE (1,624 mAh), iPhone 6s (1,715 mAh) and iPhone 7 (1,960 mAh), the GoPower Watch is simply not an iPhone accessory; it’s an Apple Watch accessory that could potentially recharge your iPhone in a pinch, with very little left over for your watch. Simultaneous charging of each device also negates the portability such battery packs allow for smartphones, since the Apple Watch needs to remain on a flat surface to stay attached to the inductive charger.

For iPhone battery packs, similarly priced accessories, like Mophie‘s powerstation XXL, give users upwards of 20,000 mAh for around $100. Other brands, including Anker, offer similar battery capacities at even cheaper prices. As such, it’s hard to harp on GoPower Watch’s clear intent to focus on Apple Watch over iPhone, but it’s an aspect of the accessory that should still be noted.

Bottom Line

Overall, GoPower Watch’s solid design and integrated induction charger make it one of the most enticing charging solutions on the market for Apple’s wearable device, if you’re an Apple Watch power user and in need of one, that is. Lack of Nightstand Mode and closed-loop band support could, however, be deal-breakers for some.

kanex-review-7The display shows the GoPower Watch’s dwindling battery

Compared to other Apple Watch battery packs, Kanex’s solution is a slightly steeper monetary investment, but its higher-capacity battery justifies the price. Nomad’s Pod, for comparison, costs $29.95 but provides an 1,800 mAh battery, or the ability to keep your Apple Watch “powered all weekend,” according to the company.

If you repeatedly find yourself scrambling for a power source for your Apple Watch when not at home, and want to invest in something you won’t have to constantly remind yourself to charge all too often, the GoPower Watch makes a reliable case for itself. Just remember that it won’t provide much in the way of repeat charges to a smartphone, especially any larger-screened models with higher-capacity batteries.

Pros

– Clean design with soft, attractive Space Gray material

– Integrated inductive charger

– Charging Apple Watch as quickly and reliably as first-party accessories

– Meets Kanex’s claim of six full Apple Watch charges

Cons

– Dies quickly when charging bigger devices through USB-A port

– Doesn’t support Nightstand Mode or closed-loop bands

How to Buy

Anyone interested can purchase the Kanex GoPower Watch from the company’s website for $99.95. Kanex also sells a line of other accessories, including a USB-C battery pack for the 12-inch MacBook, a Thunderbolt 3 adapter, and a Bluetooth Mac keyboard that can sync with up to four devices and includes Apple’s long-gone numeric keypad.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Tags: Kanex, GoPower Watch
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Although Apple remains conservative regarding the battery life of the Apple Watch, many users have noted that the wearable device makes it through one day with plenty of charge left over in its 18-hour estimated life. Still, third-party power banks and portable chargers have been popular mainstays in the Apple Watch accessory line, and recently Kanex launched its own charging device for the Apple Watch, called the GoPower Watch.

Kanex’s charger is packed with a 4,000 mAh battery and a claim that, on a full charge, it can recharge the Apple Watch up to six times with an integrated inductive charger. As a bonus, the GoPower Watch also includes a USB port, letting you charge your iPhone (or any USB-powered device) simultaneously with the Apple Watch. There’s also priority charging, so your devices charge first and the battery pack second.

Design

Kanex’s GoPower Watch meets the form and function that any successful portable battery pack needs to be used on a daily basis. Its small 3-inch square will fit comfortably in a backpack, and the quartered LED lights — surrounding the only button on the housing — provide quick and easy reminders of how much juice is left in the pack.

kanex-review-4

The slightly raised inductive charger is surrounded by a smooth Space Gray material (admittedly, a few shades darker than Apple’s definition of Space Gray), that feels sturdy despite the small frame of the GoPower Watch. Interestingly, the actual inductive charger on Kanex’s device is a bit larger than Apple’s own inductive charger, but its added 1/4 of an inch appears negligible and doesn’t affect the charging of the device.

kanex-review-8

GoPower Watch compared with Apple’s Magnetic Charger


Otherwise, the design is no-frills. The front and rear of the pack are made up of a black, plastic-type material that’s a bit more fingerprint-attractive than the Space Gray of the rest of the device. On the back users will find the micro-USB port to charge up the battery pack, and the USB Type-A port for smartphone charging. Anyone opposed to large branding on their products probably won’t like the prevalent Kanex logo on the front of the unit, however.

Continue reading “Review: Kanex’s GoPower Watch Battery Provides Six Full Apple Watch Charges in a Small Package”

Apple’s iOS 10.1 Beta Includes Promised Portrait Mode for iPhone 7 Plus Users

Today’s new iOS 10.1 beta, available now to developers, includes a new “Portrait” camera mode for iPhone 7 Plus users, which was shown off at the iPhone’s debut event but wasn’t quite ready for release.

Portrait mode is designed to mimic the kind of…

Today’s new iOS 10.1 beta, available now to developers, includes a new “Portrait” camera mode for iPhone 7 Plus users, which was shown off at the iPhone’s debut event but wasn’t quite ready for release.

Portrait mode is designed to mimic the kind of shallow depth of field images that can be taken with a high-end DSLR, with a front subject that stands out over a blurred background.

iphone7pluscamera

To achieve this look, Apple’s built-in image signal processor scans a scene, using machine learning techniques to recognize the people in the image. From there, it creates a depth map of the image from both of the two cameras included in the device, keeping the people in focus while applying an artful blur or “bokeh” to the background.

According to TechCrunch, Apple’s Portrait option was built on technology acquired from camera company LinX. Portrait mode is using the 56mm lens to capture the image while the wide-angle lens gathers perspective data to build the depth map and divide the image into layers.

appleportraitexample

Once it has this 9-layer slice, it can then pick and choose which layers are sharp and which get a gaussian (randomish) blur effect applied to them.

Once the telephoto lens detects the subject, using autofocus and other stuff we’ll talk about in a second, the image processor inside the iPhone 7 will then apply blur in greater and greater amounts to the layers that are further away from that subject.

It’s in beta, so there are some quirks Apple will need to work out. Apple has said that Portrait won’t be used all the time, and it does appear to require good lightning and the right focusing distance between objects to function properly. It will take some experimentation to get good shots with Portrait.

Portrait mode is a new feature in the camera app that can be found alongside other video and photo taking options like “Video” and “Panorama.” It even includes a Live Preview effect that lets you see what the image will look like before you take it, something that’s unique to the iPhone.
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