Microsoft Sprinkles Your iPhone

Microsoft has launched a new iOS camera app called Sprinkles. I am not sure if we actually need another iOS camera app, but I guess Microsoft thinks we do. I do think Microsoft picked a cool name for this app. It’s called Sprinkles. With Sprinkles Microsoft is taking on a genre currently dominated by Snapchat. Like Snapchat Sprinkles brings with it captions, stickers, and emojis and more fun stuff.

There was a time, not so long ago, when you’d take a photograph and that would be that. Each photo would capture a moment in time, and remain unsullied by filters and other silly stuff. And then Snapchat arrived on the scene, and changed everything.

Microsoft’s Sprinkles

Sprinkles is an iOS camera app which lets you do a host of different things with each photo you snap. You can add your own caption, add stickers and emojis, and place virtual photobooth-style props about your person.

Sprinkles utilizes Microsoft’s machine learning capabilities. The app will suggest captions based on what’s in the photo, resize and align stickers to fit your face, auto-detect your age, and inform you who your celebrity lookalike is.

Sprinkles is a strange app, but one that’s likely to appeal to a certain demographic. That being the younger generation who need to add something, anything, to a photo before letting anyone see it. Which is, we assume, why Microsoft called this app Sprinkles in the first place.

Sprinkles is available for free on the iTunes App Store right now.

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New Patch Arrives On Your iPhone Today

Today Apple is rolling out a new over the air (OTA) update for all iOS 10 users. Arriving as version 10.3.1, the latest patch isn’t a substantial one like iOS 10.3 which introduced important new features such as Find My AirPods, the Apple File System, and enhancements to Siri. Instead, the patch note simply states that “iOS 10.3.1 includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad.”

A closer look at Apple’s security page sheds light on some of the content of the new update. A discoevred Wi-Fi flaw has apparently been fixed. It appears that this vulnerability could have allowed “an attacker within range” to execute arbitrary code on the Wi-Fi chip of your phone or tablet.
Apple releases iOS 10.3.1: See what's included in the new update10.3.1 is available as a free OTA update for anyone on iOS10, while you can also download it by connecting your device to iTunes. It weighs in at less than 30MB, so a Wi-Fi connection isn’t really all that necessary.

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Was Apple Hacked – Is Your iPhone in Danger?

Apple’s iPhones and Apple IDs are a tough nut to crack for hackers, but it’s not impossible. At least that’s what a group of hackers seem to suggest, as they’re currently attempting to blackmail Apple for up to $100,000 before they start “remotely wiping millions of iPhones”. Can they actually do it? Should you be worried? It’s unclear at this point.

Apparently, the hackers have been in contact with Apple’s security team for quite a while now. They even posted a video on YouTube to prove they have actual access to iCloud accounts, access which can be used to remotely wipe iPhones.

Apple, understandably, doesn’t appear to be willing to pay up the ransom. “We firstly kindly request you to remove the video that you have uploaded on your YouTube channel as it’s seeking unwanted attention, second of all we would like you to know that we do not reward cyber criminals for breaking the law,” a screenshot of a message purportedly coming from an Apple security team member reads.

The hackers say they have access to more than 300 million Apple email accounts, including @icloud and @me domains. The number is the source of some confusion though, because a different hacker from the group claimed they had 559 million accounts in all. They have not explained how they gained access to Apple ID credentials.

The hackers are threatening to move forward with remotely wiping Apple devices on April 7th, unless Apple pays up.The problem here is that Apple has not publicly commented on the matter so far. On the off-chance that the hackers are indeed holding access to millions of iCloud accounts, you may want to consider changing your password to protect your Apple ID just to be safe. For the record I changed mine today – just to be safe.

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Apple’s iOS 10.3 Arrives with Little Fanfare

Today Apple delivered iOS 10.3 to compatible devices, adding a small number of new features.

This is the 4th updated to iOS 10. The original iOS 10 release shipped back in September and brought with it some new features and was followed up by iOS 10.1 in October and again iOS 10.2 arrived in December.

Each of those two most recent updates came with a single marquee feature – Portrait mode (for iPhone 7 Plus only) in iOS 10.1 and the new TV app in iOS 10.2. iOS 10.3 is no different in that there is nothiing really flashy here. This time the marquee feature is Find My AirPods, which is a little ridiculous (if you ask me).

In addition to “Find my AirPods”, iOS 10.3 adds a single Apple ID profile interface in Settings, a Touch 3D-compatible weather icon in Maps, and various CarPlay improvements. There’s new file system called Apple File System (APFS) that is better optimized for the NAND storage used in i-Devices. In other words, not much. Or, as BGR puts it, iOS 10.3 is “packed with new features.”

Apple also shipped even less interesting updates to macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. So if you’re using Apple devices, be sure to fire up Software Update to get the latest software.

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Building Fuzzy Engine

While the very notion of a lightweight email search tool may seem quaint in this mobile/cloud era, Microsoft may actually be on to something here. Its new Email Insights app for Windows 10 promises faster, more relevant email searches than what’s possible today in Microsoft Outlook or Gmail.

“Searching through emails can be tedious at times,” the Email Insights website notes. “You might have to keep scrolling to find that elusive email. We present a lightweight no-frills email application to alleviate these problems.”

Searching your email can be a daunting and frustrating experience and Email Insights strives to finally rectify this problem. That app works with both Outlook 2016 and Gmail. You can download Email Insight from the Windows Store.

I tested the new app today and I can report that it works as advertised, and seems to work quickly. Email appears inline in the search results, and you can expand each message individually to read more.

Be aware that the install took almost 10 minutes for me (Surface Book) and I really enjoyed some of the messages during install like, “Building Fuzzy Engine” which I have no idea what it means.

I believe that Email Insights will be a big deal for Outlook users, since that application is so terrible (with searches). Further, this would be a much bigger deal if Microsoft simply integrated this technology into Outlook 2016 itself.

According to Microsoft, the reason for Email Insights was simple enough: Email search sucks. (Remember that these are Microsoft guys, so they are probably using Outlook. Email search in Gmail is excellent.)

“The email search experience today lags far behind the web search experience,” Microsoft notes. “A user might search for an email with some keywords and keep scrolling down the search results to find that elusive email. A user has to remember the keywords from an email or the spelling of peoples’ names to get to the required email. Moreover, having a complex application with hundreds of features is an overkill for doing some quick tasks like send one liner emails.”

If regularly searching email for specific content is an issue for you, Email Insights is worth checking out. However I do hope that this solution will simply become a part of Microsoft’s email services and applications at some point.

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New MacOS Virus Emerges

I have stated this time and time again to my Apple friends. While MacOS is historically more secure then Microsoft’s Windows it is NOT because Apple has a secret security sauce. Apple’s “lead” in the security arena can basically be found in the numbers.

Cyber Criminals want the biggest bang for their hard – cyber crime work. Writing malware, ransomware and trojan horses for Windows as opposed to MacOS simply hurts more people because many more people use Windows when compared to MacOS.

This latest story demonstrates that yes – Apple’s MacOS is indeed vulnerable – just like Windows – just not as often.

While Mac malware tends to be a rather rare occurrence, Ars Technica is now reporting that security researchers have discovered two separate, new MacOS viruses that rely on old Windows tricks to get into your laptop and steal your data.

One of the attacks, documented by software firm Objective-See, exploits an established Windows technique which hides and executes malicious code using Word document macros.

mac, macos, windows, malware, virus

The hack tricks unsuspecting users into opening infected Word documents which subsequently run malicious macros once the file has been loaded. The good thing is that it’s fairly easy to identify infected files prior to opening them.

Anytime you open a Word file containing macros, your device will ask you for permission. Denying permission on its own is enough to prevent the malware from spreading.

But if you click ‘run’, all sorts of bad things could happen: A hacker could spy on you or pull your browsing history, or they could initiate a secondary infection by downloading additional malware.

More MacOS malware

While also inspired from older Windows exploits, the other recently found malware – uncovered by researchers from Iran Threats – appears to be slightly more advanced.

Unlike the previous example, which used an infected Microsoft Word document as its attack vector, this one is merely disguised as a legitimate application.

The virus essentially prompts users to download and install a fake software update. It then proceeds to harvest the user Keychain and phish for usernames, passwords as well as any other credentials, before eventually relaying the recovered data back to the attacker.

The best way to avoid this attack is to simply refrain from downloading software from third-party or untrusted websites. The safest route is to download updates straight from the App Store or simply from the official website of the app-maker in question.

While exploits for MacOS are still mostly a rarity, Apple has dealt with a litany of bugs and glitches for iOS in recent months.

Not too long ago, numerous iOS users reported their devices had frozen after a malicious three-second video spread on the internet. In another similar case, thousands of users reported experiencing unexpected shutdowns after trolls discovered a glitch in iOS that could crash any device by just sending a short text message.

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Streaming Superbowl 51

It’s Superbowl Sunday and you are in a pickle. You either cancelled your cable (cord cutter) or you on the road. If you are in one of the situations… don’t panic. Their are options to catch the game. I do realize that my mighty Broncos are not in this year’s affair – and that’s OK because they can’t be in every year. I am sure the Broncos will be back in full force next season. This year we have the Patriots & the Falcons.

Here are some tips for catching the game if you don’t have cable or if you are on the road.

Over-the-air

If you have a digital antenna, you can (probably) catch the game, in HD, over-the-air. The channel varies with your local area, but it’ll be broadcast on your local Fox affiliate in some 170 local viewing areas.

Web, Phone, and Tablet

FoxSportsGo.com will host a free livestream of the event, complete with commercials. (Almost) any device with a web browser — smart TVs, laptops, and set-top boxes — can watch the game on the Fox Sports website with no need to log in, or to enter details about your cable package.

The one caveat here is that you can’t watch it on a smartphone, although who really wants to watch the game that way anyway? If you really want to tune in to the action on your smartphone, you’ll need to be a Verizon wireless subscriber. If that’s you, you can grab the app for either Android or iOS devices and stream via the NFL Mobile app.

If you’re on an iOS, Windows, or Android tablet (or Kindle), you can stream the game from the Fox Sports Go app for iOS, Windows, Android, or Amazon.

Set top boxes and video game consoles

SlingTV and PlayStation users are out due to licensing restrictions with the Fox network in Denver, but Xbox, AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast, AndroidTV, and FireTV users are in luck. You’ll have to download the Fox Sports Go app on your respective device, but you’ll be able to see all the action from your device.

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Apple’s iOS 10.3 Released to Beta Testers

This morning I downloaded and installed the beta release of iOS 10.3 on my iPhone 7. This is a promising update and it looks like there are many valuable and useful updates coming to your iPhone. I have a sneak peak here so if you have an iPhone keep on reading!

On the face of things, iOS 10.3 beta 1 doesn’t look to be a huge step forward for the platform, but does actually contain a number of interesting and exciting improvements. First and foremost, Apple has furnished the Find My iPhone app with the ability to locate lost AirPods, meaning you don’t have to worry about losing one of the lose little Pods. Apple has also improved the ability of Siri, much to the pleasure of cricket fans, by allowing Siri to check and report back international and Indian Premiere League cricket match scores. Improving Siri also seems to be hot on the agenda with a number of improvements to SiriKit to bring additional functionality, like paying bills, scheduling (instead of just ordering) rides with Uber and Lyft, and even checking the status of payments.

Apple has also made some smaller improvements, such as adding Reduce Motion support into Safari, bringing a new Podcasts app widget, and even adding HomeKit enhancements, as well as a new hourly weather forecast via 3D Touch actions in Maps app.

iOS 10.3 also means that the iPhone and iPad will be the first devices to adopt Apple’s new file system, APFS.

For a complete list of changes, head on over to our post here: iOS 10.3 Beta 1: All Changes And New Features In One Place.

iOS 10.3 Public Beta 1

Those who are registered on Apple’s Beta Software Program are able to grab iOS 10.3 public beta 1 right now from Settings > General > Software Update. For those who aren’t enrolled yet, head to beta.apple.com to get started.

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Avoiding iPhone’s New Killer Text Message

Has your iPhone been freezing without a reason when receiving texts? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one – and it probably means someone is playing a prank on you.

YouTuber EverythingApplePro has stumbled upon a peculiar new bug in iOS 10 that allows pranksters to crash any iPhone and iPad by simply sending a short text message containing a flag and a rainbow emoji.

The glitch works in two different ways, both of which will freeze your device in varying degrees.

The first method involves a text string that contains a white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow emoji as well as a hidden character called a variation selector, which can then be copied into iMessage and sent to anyone. The second way is to deliver the same faulty text string by embedding it within a contact’s card and using iCloud drive to share it via iMessage.

Although the former approach seems to affect only devices running iOS 10.1 and below, the latter method will crash all reiterations of iOS 10, including the latest version 10.2.

The bug was initially discovered by French iOS developer Vincent Desmurs, who suggests in his blog that Apple’s handling of the variation selector is to blame for the issue. As the coder explains, the buggy message tells your device to combine the white flag and the rainbow into a rainbow flag, but iOS ultimately crashes when it fails to process the request.

While Apple will likely release a fix in the coming few days, Desmurs has posted some tips on how to deal with the flaw for users experiencing continuous issues with their phones after receiving the text.

This isn’t the first time Apple has struggled with such glitches. Not too long ago, EverythignApplePro came across a similar bug in iOS that could freeze any iPhone and iPad by sending a short three-second video.

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Microsoft Outlook’s Big iOS Update

Outlook is one of the bright spots for Microsoft in mobile and one of my most used apps. This week Microsoft issued a fairly major update on iOS that makes this already great app even better.

So, what issues does the latest version of Outlook address? Here’s the list.

Create and edit recurring events. You can now create and edit recurring events straight from the Calendar module in the app. (This feature requires an Office 365 subscription.)

Reading improvements. This is one that’s bothered me, but Microsoft has finally improved the way that emails with very small font are displayed. “They should now be much more readable,” Microsoft notes.

Search improvements. Outlook now displays search results by conversation rather than as individual results. “This means that if you search for ‘holidays’, [the app will] show you that very long family thread about what to have for dinner as just one result,” Microsoft notes. Previously, this might have displayed 23 (or whatever) different results.

Passbook support. Outlook now supports Passbook, the iOS wallet app, which is also used to store coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, store cards, and loyalty cards. Meaning you can now do things like see your flight details right from the inbox.

On Android, Outlook picked up that first change—the ability to create and edit recurring events—back in late December. But I’m not sure if the other improvements are available yet on Android.

And of course, as any Android-weilding user of Outlook will tell you, Microsoft has yet to address the single biggest—and most inexcusable—problem with Outlook, its inability to edit or manage contacts in any meaningful way. The software giant says it’s working on that.

Download Outlook for iOS

Download Outlook for Android

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