BUL2294 writes: Following the arrests earlier this month in India of call center employees posing as IRS or immigration agents, USA Today and Consumerist are reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice has charged 61 people in the U.S. and India of facilitating the scam, bilking millions from Americans thinking they were facing immediate arrest and prosecution. "According to the indictment (PDF) -- which covers 20 individuals in the U.S. and 32 people and five call centers in India -- since about 2012 the defendants used information obtained from data brokers and other sources to call potential victims impersonating officers from the IRS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services," reports Consumerist. The report adds: "To give the calls an air of authenticity, the organization was able to 'spoof' phone numbers, making the calls appear to have really come from a federal agency. The callers would then allegedly threaten potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines, or deportation if they did not pay supposed taxes or penalties to the government. In instances when the victims agreed to pay, the DOJ claims that the call centers would instruct them to go to banks or ATMs to withdraw money, use the funds to purchase prepaid stored value cards from retail stores, and then provide the unique serial number to the caller. At this point, the operations U.S.-based counterparts would use the serial numbers to transfer the funds to prepaid reloadable cards. The cards would then be used to purchase money orders that were transferred into U.S. bank accounts of individuals or businesses. To make matters worse, the indictment claims that the prepaid debit cards were often registered using personal information of thousands of identity theft victims, and the wire transfers were directed by the organizations using fake names and fraudulent identifications. The operation would then use 'hawalas' -- a system in which money is transferred internationally outside of the formal banking system -- to direct the pilfered funds to accounts belonging to U.S.-based individuals.
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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: As Phil Schiller explained during today's event, Apple's new MacBook Pros feature four Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, and conveniently, each of these can be used to charge the machine. Now, USB-C is incredibly versatile, and Apple will use the advanced port for power charging, HDMI and much more. However, with USB-C the only game in town, you might reasonably be wondering: How in the world do I connect my iPhone to my sleek new MacBook Pro? The frustrating answer is that you won't be able to do so out of the box. Instead, you'll have to buy a dongle. This is especially frustrating because many people use their notebooks for a) charging purposes when an outlet isn't necessarily handy and b) for transferring photos and other data. Now, you might reasonably state that you can just rely upon the cloud for items like data transfer, but there's no getting around the fact that Apple's efforts in the cloud still leave much to be desired. How much will it cost to connect your iPhone to your brand new MacBook Pro? Well, Apple sells a USB-C to Lightning cable on its website for $25. While this is undoubtedly frustrating, we can't say that it's entirely unexpected given Apple gave us a preview of its preference for USB-C when it released its 12-in. MacBook last year. Still, it's a funky design choice for a decidedly Pro-oriented device where the last thing a prospective consumer would want to do is spend some extra cash for a dongle after spending upwards of $2,399. Lastly, while we're on the topic of ports, it's worth noting that the new MacBook Pros also do away with the beloved MagSafe connector.
Even though the Apple TV news was considered "boring" by many livestream viewers waiting to catch a glimpse of the new MacBook Pros, there were several big announcements worth mentioning. For starters, Apple announced a new app called "TV" that will "allow you to track your favorite shows and movies across the video apps across the Apple TV platform." What this app essentially does is showcase the content from video providers into a single view, making it easier for Apple TV owners to find content to watch. Apple TV owners will no longer need to search through a bunch of different apps to find the content they like. TechCrunch reports: When launched, the app will display a "Watch Now" section, where you can track the shows and movies you're currently watching. Here, you'll see things like how many minutes you have left on the movie or which season and episode you're on in a series, for example. It will also alert you to new episodes from your favorite shows. From here, you can go into "Up Next" and "Recommended" sections, in order to find new things to watch from across favorite shows, movies, as well as iTunes purchases and rentals. In the "Recommended" section, content is organized into different groups, like trending shows and movies. And similar to iTunes, the TV app features curated "Collections," which are thematic groupings of content, like political shows or thrillers, for instance. Other sections in the TV app, "Library" and "Store," will point you to your prior iTunes purchases, including rentals, or let you browse for more movies and shows to buy. You can also use Siri with the new app, and the assistant is smart enough to know which app to launch to watch the program you ask about. For instance, if you want to watch the game, you just ask to watch the game -- you don't need to know which app is streaming it. You can also say things like "which games are on right now?" or "watch CBS News," without having to navigate to the app directly. This feature, called Siri Live Tune-In, is available today. In addition, while the app is primarily meant to address the challenges of watching across apps on Apple TV, the new TV app will also arrive on iPhone and iPad this December, the company says. Along with the new TV guide app, Apple is rolling out support for Single Sign-On, which was announced at WWDC 2016 as a tvOS feature. This lets you enter your username and password for your pay TV subscription only once, instead of in each video streaming app that requires authentication.
WhatsApp appears to be rolling out its video calling feature for beta users of the Android app. The arrival of the feature was first spotted by Android Police, which found that an updated app interface caused some users of the beta builds of the application to be able to access video calling. TechCrunch reports: For those on a version of WhatsApp which includes video calling support, you're able to tap the call button or tap on a contact card to kick off a video call. In this case, a new dialog box will appear, offering the choice between a standard voice call and a video call. In addition, the call log will show which calls were made via video by annotating them with the camera icon, instead of the telephone icon. However, there isn't yet a way to call other WhatsApp users who don't also have video calling support. If you try to, WhatsApp defaults to a voice call. Android isn't the only platform where video calling has been switched on. Last week, some users on the WhatsApp beta for Windows Phone were also surprised to find that the feature was now functional. And in this case, it didn't require an app update -- indicating a server-side change could enable it. Some users have also reported seeing the feature on iOS.
Let's face it, tracking down a lost bag at the airport is a pain-in-the-ass. While airlines will often compensate you with money and new clothes for your troubles, the experience is certainly not pleasant. Delta is now attempting to further reduce the number of lost bags through its real-time luggage tracker in the latest version of its mobile app. The Next Web reports: The feature apparently cost $50 million to build. It allows you to see where your stuff is -- provided that it's at one of the 84 airports that support Delta's new tracking tech. Here's how it works. All bags will get a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag. This allows Delta to track them in real-time using radio waves. Scanners positioned throughout the baggage system will allow Delta to monitor where the bag is, and relay that information to the passenger. Delta has traditionally been one of the best airlines when it comes to handling baggage. During 2012, it lost only 200,000 bags. That sounds like a lot, but bear in mind it carried 98 million passengers during the same period. You can try the feature on your next Delta flight by grabbing the app from Google Play and the App Store.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Apple's new wireless, $180 AirPods have less than a week to meet their original shipping target of "late October," and now the company has confirmed that such a launch is officially off the table. A Wednesday statement, given to Ars Technica just one day ahead of the company's latest Mac-related press event, confirmed Apple's decision to delay the wireless headphones' launch. In the statement, Apple tells Ars that the company "needs a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers." "The early response to AirPods has been incredible," the Apple statement reads. "We don't believe in shipping a product before it's ready." Apple declined to offer any estimate or release window information about when to expect the AirPods' official launch.
If you happen to walk through the Museum of Modern Art in New York between December to March of next year, you may see 176 emoji on display next to Van Gogh and Picasso. On Wednesday, the museum announced that Shigetaka Kurita's original pictographs would be added to its collection. Los Angeles Times reports: Nearly two decades ago, Shigetaka Kurita was given the task of designing simple pictographs that could replace Japanese words for the growing number of cellphone users communicating with text messages. Kurita, who was working for the Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo at the time, came up with 176 of them, including oddities like a rocking horse, two kinds of umbrellas (one open, one closed) and five different phases of the moon. He called them emojis. An estimated 74% of Americans now use emojis every day, nudging the written word to the side in favor of a medium that can succinctly and playfully convey emotions in a society often more adept at texting than talking. That marriage of design and utility prompted the art world to take notice. Museum officials say emojis are the modern-day answer to an age-old tradition of communicating with pictures. "Emojis as a concept go back in the centuries, to ideograms, hieroglyphics and other graphic characters, enabling us to draw this beautiful arch that covers all of human history," said Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at MoMA. "There is nothing more modern than timeless concepts such as these."
Instead of buying a new iPhone model, some Chinese iPhone owners are giving their old models a makeover to look like the latest version -- a trend that could dent Apple's efforts to boost sales in what has been its biggest growth driver. Catherine Cadell, reporting for Reuters: Online sites offer shoppers makeover kits, false cameras and even dust plugs to hide the removed headphone jack to give their iPhone 6 or 6S the appearance of the iPhone 7 -- Apple's latest flagship product which launched last month. The makeover quirk mirrors a broader view among some Chinese users that the iPhone 7 doesn't have enough new features to convince them to trade up. "I don't have the money to upgrade, and the (iPhone) 7 is just so-so," said a Beijing-based sales worker, who said he was getting a Shenzhen firm to replace his iPhone 6 back casing with a fake iPhone 7 shell. "I'm changing it to show off," he said, giving only his surname Gao as he wasn't sure that what he was doing was legal. Searches on platforms including Alibaba's Taobao showed a range of products to transform older phones to an iPhone 7 -- from stickers and engraving services to replacing the outer casing and even some of the hardware.
The future of Google Fiber has been shaky ever since Google's parent company, Alphabet, was founded. The original plan was to expand Fiber's blazing fast internet service to more than 20 cities, with the goal of eventually delivering nationwide gigabit service. However, Alphabet hit the reset button on those plans Tuesday. Not only is Google Fiber CEO Craig Barratt leaving, but about 9 percent of staff is being let go. That translates to about 130 job losses, since the business has about 1,500 employees. Bloomberg reports: Barratt wrote in a blog post that the company is pulling back fiber-to-the-home service from eight different cities where it had announced plans. Those include major metropolitan areas such as Dallas, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Moving into big cities was a contentious point inside Google Fiber, according to one former executive. Leaders like Barratt and Dennis Kish, who runs Google Fiber day-to-day, pushed for the big expansion. Others pushed back because of the prohibitive cost of digging up streets to lay fiber-optic cables across some of America's busiest cities. "I suspect the sheer economics of broad scale access deployments finally became too much for them," said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research. "Ultimately, most of the reasons Google got into this in the first place have either been achieved or been demonstrated to be unrealistic."
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: Apple just posted its first annual sales decline since 2001, the year it launched the iPod and kicked off a tremendous run of groundbreaking products. The tech company revealed Tuesday that annual sales fell to $216 billion in the 2016 fiscal year ending September 30, from a record $234 billion in 2015. The sales decline is closely connected to the falling sales for the iPhone, which remains Apple's largest source of revenue. Apple sold 45.5 million iPhones in the September quarter, down from 48 million iPhones in the same quarter a year earlier. That marks the third consecutive quarter when iPhone sales and overall revenue have declined from a year prior. Many analysts have raised concerns that the global smartphone market is saturated. Customers are taking longer to replace their phones. And Apple's latest iPhone is a dead ringer for the previous two models, eliminating some of the desire to upgrade. The good news is that this sales decline may prove to be a blip and not the new norm. Apple is projecting that it will post sales of $76 billion to $78 billion in the upcoming quarter, up from $74.8 billion a year earlier.
One of the biggest features on iOS that isn't available on Android is iMessage, an instant messaging service that allows users to send information over Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, and other forms of internet access to other iOS or OS X users. Earlier this year, there were been rumors swirling around the possibility of the service coming to Android due to Apple's increased focus on services, "which means opening up certain avenues beyond its own iOS and OS X platforms." Today, Daring Fireball's John Gruber has added fuel to the fire by mentioning that he's "heard from little birdies" that a handful of "detailed mockups" of iMessage for Android have been shared around Apple. MacRumors reports: The user interface of the Android app is said to have gone through numerous designs, from one that looks identical to the version on iOS, to another that has a "pure Material Design," using Google's design language it developed a few years ago. Gruber still thinks iMessage on Android "might happen sooner or later," mainly because of iMessage's new monetized Messages App Store, which could net Apple increased income in its already profitable services category if it translated the app to Android. Apple undoubtedly created mockups for all types of products and services, the vast majority of which never make it to release, and it's unclear exactly how far along the iMessage for Android preliminary designs were at the time of their circulation through Apple, or when exactly that occurred. Still, Gruber notes that while an Android version of iMessage "may never see the light of day," even the existence of such mockups "strongly suggests that there's no 'of course not' to it."
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Cellebrite, an Israeli company that specializes in digital forensics, has dominated the market in helping law enforcement access mobile phones. But one apparent reseller of the company's products is publicly distributing copies of Cellebrite firmware and software for anyone to download. Although Cellebrite keeps it most sensitive capabilities in-house, the leak may still give researchers, or competitors, a chance to figure out how Cellebrite breaks into and analyzes phones by reverse-engineering the files. The apparent reseller distributing the files is McSira Professional Solutions, which, according to its website, "is pleased to serve police, military and security agencies in the E.U. And [sic] in other parts of the world." McSira is hosting software for various versions of Cellebrite's Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), hardware that investigators can use to bypass the security mechanisms of phones, and then extract data from them. McSira allows anyone to download firmware for the UFED Touch, and a PC version called UFED 4PC. It is also hosting pieces of Cellebrite forensic software, such as the UFED Cloud Analyzer. This allows investigators to further scrutinize seized data. McSira is likely offering downloads so customers can update their hardware to the latest version with as little fuss as possible. But it may be possible for researchers to take those files, reverse-engineer them, and gain insight into how Cellebrite's tools work. That may include what sort of exploits Cellebrite uses to bypass the security mechanisms of mobile phones, and weaknesses in the implementation of consumer phones that could be fixed, according to one researcher who has started to examine the files, but was not authorised by his employer to speak to the press about this issue.
The stars have finally aligned for WiGig, an ultra-fast, short-range wireless network. The Wi-Fi Alliance has launched a certification process for WiGig products, which it claims, can go as fast as 8Gbps. The technology was first announced in 2009, and it is based on IEEE 802.11ad standard that is supported by many new products. CNET adds:That speed is good enough to replace network cables today. And tomorrow, WiGig should be good for beaming high-resolution video from your phone to your 4K TV or linking a lightweight virtual-reality headset to its control computer. VR and its cousin, augmented reality, work better when you don't have a thick cable tethering your head to a PC. New speed is especially helpful when conventional wireless networks clog up. We're all streaming video at higher resolutions, hooking up new devices like cars and security cameras to the network, and getting phones for our kids. Another complication: Phones using newer mobile data networks can barge in on the same radio airwaves that Wi-Fi uses. Saturation of regular Wi-Fi radio channels "will create a demand for new spectrum to carry this traffic," said Yaron Kahana, manager of Intel's WiGig product line. "In three years we expect WiGig to be highly utilized for data transfer." WiGig and Wi-Fi both use unlicensed radio spectrum available without government permission -- 2.4 gigahertz and 5GHz in the case of Wi-Fi. Unlicensed spectrum is great, but airwaves are already often crowded. WiGig, though, uses the 60GHz band that's unlicensed but not so busy. You will want to check for WiGig sticker in the next gear you purchase.
At the Wall Street Journal's WSJD Live conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella admitted that Microsoft has largely failed in making a dent in the mobile hardware business. Nadella, who took over the command of Microsoft from Steve Ballmer in February 2014, however added that the company is now focused on doing well in new categories and also building new categories. He said:We clearly missed the mobile phone, there's no question. Our goal now is to make sure we grow new categories. We have devices which are phones today but the place where we are focused on, given where the market is, is what is the unique thing that our phone can do. We have a phone that in fact can replace your PC, the same way we have a tablet that can replace your laptop. Those are the categories that we want to go create. If anything, the lesson learned for us, was thinking of PC as the hub for all things for all time to come. It was perhaps one for the bigger mistakes we made.