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Apple releases third iOS 12 beta to everyone

Apple just released the third version of the iOS 12 beta as part of the public beta program. It means that everyone can now install a development build of iOS 12, the next major version of the operating system for iPhone and iPad. Don’t forget this is still a beta version. Things will crash, things won’t work. Don’t be surprised if you lose data in your Photos, Notes or Messages apps for instance. But if you have an iPhone or iPad that you don’t use every day, you can get a glimpse of the future of iOS right now. While the final version of iOS 12 should be released near the end of September, Apple is going to release beta versions every few weeks over the summer. Before installing the beta, don’t forget to back up your device to iCloud and/or your computer using iTunes. You can then head over to Apple’s beta website , sign up with your Apple ID and download the beta profile . The profile is just a tiny file that tells your iPhone to check for public betas. After restarting your device, you can open the Settings app and install the iOS update just like any normal software update. If you already installed a previous beta, it’s time to update. In September, your device should automatically update to the final version of iOS 12 and you’ll be able to delete the configuration profile. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new in iOS 12. The main feature of iOS 12 is a performance improvement, especially for older devices.

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India’s Cashify raises $12M for its second-hand smartphone business

Cashify , a company that buys and sells used smartphones, is the latest India startup to raise capital from Chinese investors after it announced a $12 million Series C round. Chinese funds  CDH Investments and Morningside led the round which included participation from  Aihuishou , a China-based startup that sells used electronics in a similar way to Cashify and has raised over $120 million. Existing investors including Bessemer Ventures and Shunwei also took part in the round. This new capital takes Cashify to $19 million raised to date. The business was started in 2013 by co-founders Mandeep Manocha (CEO), Nakul Kumar (COO) and Amit Sethi (CFO) initially as ‘ReGlobe.’ The business gives consumers a fast way to sell their existing electronics, it deals mainly in smartphones but also takes laptops, consoles, TVs and tablets. “When we began we saw a lot of transaction for phone sales moving from offline to online,” Manocha told TechCrunch in an interview. “But consumer-to-consumer for used devices is highly opaque on price discovery and you never know if you’re making the right decision on price and whether the transaction will take place in the timeframe.” These days, the company estimates that the average upgrade cycle has shifted from 20 months to 12 months, and now it is doubling down. With Cashify, sellers simply fill out some details online about their device, then Cashify dispatches a representative who comes to their house to perform diagnostic checks and gives them cash for the device that day. The startup also offers an app which automatically carries out the checks — for example ensuring the camera, Bluetooth module, etc all work — and offers a higher cash payment for the user since Cashify uses fewer resources.   A sample of the Cashify Q&A for selling a device. Beyond its website and app, Cashify gets devices from trade-in programs for Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple in India, as well as e-commerce companies like Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm Mall. Used device acquired, what happens next is interesting. The startup has built out a network of offline merchants who specialize in selling used phones

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Microsoft program provides a decade of updates for Windows IoT devices

If you have an essential Internet of Things device running Windows 10 IoT Core Service , you don’t want to be worried about security and OS patches over a period of years. Microsoft wants to help customers running these kinds of devices with a new program that guarantees 10 years of updates. The idea is that as third-party partners build applications on top of the Windows 10 IoT Core Services, these OEMs, who create the apps, can pay Microsoft to guarantee updates for these devices for a decade. This can help assure customers that they won’t be vulnerable to attack on these critical systems from unpatched applications. The service does more than provide updates though. It also gives OEMs the ability to manage the updates and assess the device’s health. “The Windows IoT Core service offering is enabling partners to commercialize secure IoT devices backed by industry-leading support. And so device makers will have the ability to manage updates for the OS, for the apps and for the settings for OEM-specific files,” Dinesh Narayanan, director of business development for emerging markets explained. It gives OEMs creating Windows-powered applications on machines like healthcare devices or ATMs this ability to manage them over an extended period. That’s particularly important as these devices tend to have a more extended usage period than say a PC or tablet.”We want to extend support and commit to that support over the long haul for these devices that have a longer life cycle,” Narayanan said. Beyond the longevity, the service also provides customers with access to the Device Update Center where they can control and customize how and when the devices get updated. It also includes another level of security called Device Health Attestation that allows the OEMs to evaluate the trustworthiness of the devices before they update them using a third party service. All of this is designed to give Microsoft a foothold in the growing IoT space and to provide an operating system for these devices as they proliferate. While predictions vary dramatically, Gartner has predicted that at least 20 billion connected devices will be online in 2020

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‘Hey Siri’ is purely optional in watchOS 5

Why do you need to say Siri when you've already got your Apple Watch hovering right in front of your face? Soon, you won't have to. WatchOS 5 will drop the need for you to vocally summon Siri, instead, as soon as your raise your device up, it'll star...

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Apple unveils new screen time controls for children

Apple this morning announced a new set of parental controls for iOS devices at its WorldWide Developer Conference this morning in San Jose. The company had already acknowledged back in January that it had new, more robust parental control features in the works, following an open letter posted by two large Apple shareholder groups, Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. The letter from the influential, activist shareholders mentioned recent research from child development experts whose studies have found links between the use of electronic devices by kids, and negative effects on concentration, emotional health, sleep and empathy. One study even found a link between time spent on devices and teen suicide, with teens who spent three or more hours per day on devices at higher risk than those who used them for an hour or less. In addition, the letter argued that managing children’s device usage isn’t just the parents’ responsibility alone – they also need help from tech companies on the matter. The shareholders suggested Apple task an executive to focus on these digital wellbeing features aimed at children and parents, and include new setup menus in Apple software that better allow parents to tailor the functionality of the device to the child’s specific ages. Apple responded by saying updated parental controls were coming, and it rolled out a “Families” page on its website with educational materials for parents. The company today unveiled for the first time what these new controls would look like, and how they work. Now, there’s a new activity report for parents and kids that shows how much time is spent using the device and the apps, and parents will have the option of creating screen time allowances for kids. Another “downtime” option will help kids to unplug, and parents can limit app usage by category or individual whitelisted apps.

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Facebook says it “disagrees” with the New York Times’ criticisms of its device-integrated APIs

Facebook has responded to a New York Times story that raises privacy concerns about the company’s device-integrated APIs, saying that it “disagrees with the issues they’ve raised about these APIs.” Headined “Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends,” the New York Times article criticizes the privacy protections of device-integrated APIs, which were launched by Facebook a decade ago. Before app stores became common, the APIs enabled Facebook to strike data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers, including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, that allowed them to offer Facebook features, such as messaging, address books and the like button, to their users. But they may have given access to more data than assumed, says the article. New York Times reporters Gabriel J.X. Dance, Nicholas Confessore and Michael LaForgia write that “the partnerships, whose scope has not been previously reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections,” as well as its compliance with a consent decree it struck with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011 . The FTC is currently investigating Facebook’s privacy practices in light of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal . “Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders,” the New York Times story says. “Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found.” Facebook said in April it would begin winding down access to its device-integrated APIs, but the New York Times says that many of those partnerships are still in effect. Facebook is already under intense scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators, including the FTC, because of the Cambridge Analytica revelation, which raised serious concerns about the public APIs used by third-party developers and the company’s data-sharing policies. “In the furor that followed, Facebook’s leaders said that the kind of access exploited by Cambridge in 2014 was cut off by the next year, when Facebook prohibited developers from collecting information from users’ friends,” the New York Times says. “But the company officials did not disclose that Facebook had exempted the makers of cellphones, tablets and other hardware from such restrictions.” Facebook told the New York Times that data sharing through device-integrated APIs adhered to its privacy policies and the 2011 FTC agreement. The company also told the newspapers that it knew of no cases where a partner had misused data. Facebook acknowledged that some partners did store users’ data, including data from their Facebook friends, on their own servers, but said that those practices abided by strict agreements

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Apple is releasing iOS 11.4 with support for Messages in iCloud, AirPlay 2 and more

Apple this afternoon will officially release the latest version of its iOS software for your iPhone and iPad, iOS 11.4, which at last adds support for Messages in iCloud, along with other new features, including most notably, AirPlay 2 and an update that allows two HomePod speakers to work together as a stereo pair. Messages in iCloud was first announced a year ago at WWDC 2017 as a way of keeping conversations up-to-date across all your Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac. Its introduction means you’ll now be able to access your entire Messages history when you set up a new Apple device, and, when you delete a message from one device, that change syncs to all your devices. In addition to the benefit of being able to access your entire conversation history, Messages in iCloud will be especially helpful to those who tend to save their all their conversations, but have a device without a lot of storage. Typically, this has led to those conversations taking up a sizable amount of space – sometimes even gigabytes of storage, thanks to all the photos and attachments that are shared across iMessage these days. With Messages in iCloud, however, everything – including attachments – are stored in iCloud, which frees up local storage space for other things – like music downloads, videos, podcasts, books and apps, for example. The messages are also end-to-end encrypted for security purposes. They’re protected with a key derived from information unique to the device, combined with the device passcode – which only the device owner should know. That means no one else could access or read the data. The Messages in iCloud feature had first appeared in early betas of iOS 11 last summer, but was later pulled before the iOS public release. It later popped up again in the iOS 11.3 beta, but it was unclear when Apple would launch it, given that it had been left out of earlier iOS releases, despite all the beta testing. Today, the feature will roll out to all users, via iOS 11.4. Also new in iOS 11.4 are features focused on media and entertainment, including the launch of AirPlay 2 and support stereo pair for HomePod .

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