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Firefox’s fight for the future of the web
Posted on Sunday November 17, 2019

With Google’s Chrome dominating the market, not-for-profit rival Mozilla is staking a comeback on its dedication to privacy

Why do you choose the browser you use? Maybe you think it loads pages more quickly. Maybe it’s made by the same firm as your device and you think it’s more compatible in some way. You prefer the graphics, perhaps, or it just happened to be pre-installed on your machine. Maybe you’re not even aware that there’s a choice.

In reality, two-thirds of us have been funnelled into using Google’s Chrome, but browser choice also hides a contest about the openness of the web and how data is collected about users. One organisation that has always put such issues to the forefront is Mozilla.

If you go on Facebook and contribute a post, a like or whatever, you're giving information to Facebook

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This pension scheme has 8m members – and ethical savers do best
Posted on Friday November 15, 2019

The publicly owned Nest has thrived thanks to investments such as its £1.1bn ‘climate aware’ fund

It’s often said that paying into a workplace pension is a no-brainer, and maybe here’s the proof: early investors into Britain’s biggest auto-enrolment scheme have tripled their money in seven years. And those who chose the ethical fund have made the best returns.

Figures provided exclusively to Guardian Money by Nest (National Employment Savings Trust) – which boasts 8.5 million members – are good news for those putting aside money for their future.

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Apple’s ‘sexist’ credit card isn’t just a PR problem – it’s a nightmare for us all | Arwa Mahdawi
Posted on Wednesday November 13, 2019

Men including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak have been awarded significantly more credit that their wives. It’s a bleak insight into our algorithmic future

What is white, fragile and sexist? There are innumerable answers to that question, but the one I’m looking for in this instance is the Apple Card. The tech giant released its first branded credit card, managed by Goldman Sachs, earlier this year. The fancy titanium card is famously delicate; Apple has warned people not to store it in a leather wallet because it is easily damaged.

As it turns out, the card seems to be as allergic to women as it is to leather. Last week, David Heinemeier Hansson, a high-profile tech entrepreneur, tweeted that the card was “sexist” because it gave him 20 times more credit than his wife – seemingly for the sole reason of his gender. Hansson’s tweet went viral and Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak chimed in to say that he had also been given a much higher credit limit than his wife, even though the pair have no separate cards, accounts or assets. New York regulators are now investigating the claims of discrimination.

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Facebook bug turns on iPhone camera when users scroll through their feed
Posted on Tuesday November 12, 2019

Company has confirmed system bug in the latest version of iOS app, and said it is submitting a fix to Apple

A system bug has been allowing Facebook to access iPhone cameras as users scroll through their feed, the company confirmed on Tuesday.

Twitter user Joshua Maddux tweeted a screen recording this weekend that showed his iPhone camera would open as he scrolled through his social media feed. Other users had also noticed the glitch earlier in the month, one calling it “a little worrying”.

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Apple Card issuer investigated after claims of sexist credit checks
Posted on Sunday November 10, 2019

Goldman Sachs faces official inquiry as IT figures including Steve Wozniak say they got 10 times or more the credit limit received by their wives

The algorithm used to set credit limits for the new Apple Card will be the subject of an official investigation, following tweets from a tech entrepreneur blasting the company for gender discrimination.

New York’s Department of Financial Services has initiated the probe into the credit card practices of Goldman Sachs, which provides the Apple Card. In a series of Twitter posts starting on Thursday, David Heinemeier Hansson railed against the Apple Card for giving him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got, Bloomberg reported on Saturday.

The same thing happened to us. I got 10x the credit limit. We have no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets. Hard to get to a human for a correction though. It's big tech in 2019.

Related: Apple warns new credit card users over risks of it touching wallets and pockets

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How big tech is dragging us towards the next financial crash
Posted on Friday November 08, 2019

Like the big banks, big tech uses its lobbying muscle to avoid regulation, and thinks it should play by different rules. And like the banks, it could be about to wreak financial havoc on us all. By Rana Foroohar

‘In every major economic downturn in US history, the ‘villains’ have been the ‘heroes’ during the preceding boom,” said the late, great management guru Peter Drucker. I cannot help but wonder if that might be the case over the next few years, as the United States (and possibly the world) heads toward its next big slowdown. Downturns historically come about once every decade, and it has been more than that since the 2008 financial crisis. Back then, banks were the “too-big-to-fail” institutions responsible for our falling stock portfolios, home prices and salaries. Technology companies, by contrast, have led the market upswing over the past decade. But this time around, it is the big tech firms that could play the spoiler role.

You wouldn’t think it could be so when you look at the biggest and richest tech firms today. Take Apple. Warren Buffett says he wished he owned even more Apple stock. (His Berkshire Hathaway has a 5% stake in the company.) Goldman Sachs is launching a new credit card with the tech titan, which became the world’s first $1tn market-cap company in 2018. But hidden within these bullish headlines are a number of disturbing economic trends, of which Apple is already an exemplar. Study this one company and you begin to understand how big tech companies – the new too-big-to-fail institutions – could indeed sow the seeds of the next crisis.

Related: Why Silicon Valley can’t fix itself

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Xerox considering bid for fellow fading tech giant HP, according to report
Posted on Wednesday November 06, 2019

  • HP valued at $27bn – three times as much as Xerox
  • Falling demand for printed documents has hit both companies

Xerox is reportedly considering a bid for HP, a move that would unite two fading stars of technology that have struggled to keep up in the digital age.

According to the Wall Street Journal Xerox is weighing a cash and stock offer for HP, currently valued at $27bn, more than three times as much as Xerox itself.

Related: Former HP boss was ready to 'throw predecessor under the bus', court hears

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Google snaps up Fitbit for $2.1bn
Posted on Friday November 01, 2019

Takeover allows web giant to take on Apple in fast-growing smartwatch and wearables business

Google has snapped up the Fitbit activity tracker business in a $2.1bn (£1.6bn) deal that will enable the search giant to go toe-to-toe with Apple in the fast-growing smartwatch and wearables business.

Google is paying cash for the San Francisco-based Fitbit, which was set up in 2007.

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The Morning Show review – Jennifer Aniston returns in a masterwork for the #MeToo era
Posted on Friday November 01, 2019

Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell match the Friends star stride for stride in this funny, fearless drama from Apple TV+

What a strange and rather lovely thing it is to watch an actor you have grown up with for two and a half decades finally come into her kingdom. So it is with Jennifer Aniston who, 25 years after she arrived on our screens in Friends, returns in a TV series for the first time since the hit show ended in 2004.

The Morning Show is a slick, sophisticated venture stuffed with powerhouse performances – Aniston’s foremost among them. She plays Alex Levy, the co-anchor of a morning talk show whose life is thrown into disarray when her co-presenter Mitch (Steve Carrell, proving alongside Aniston that if you can do comedy you can do anything) is accused of sexual misconduct and fired. Their chemistry kept the waning show afloat – without it, she becomes even more vulnerable. Behind the scenes, network executives have already been looking to replace her ageing presence. This is their opportunity to do so, at least until Alex starts to fight furiously back while the lies, rumours, deals, double-crossings and backstabbings multiply. In a coup d’etat, she installs as her new partner a scrappy regional reporter, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), who is experiencing 15 minutes of fame as a voice of the people after candid footage of her at a coal-mining protest went viral.

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Apple hopes its new streaming service will make a splash
Posted on Friday November 01, 2019

AppleTV+ starts with smaller budget than Netflix or Amazon but aims for prestige market

Apple gatecrashes the fast-growing global streaming business on Friday with the launch of Apple TV+, offering a free service on all new Apple devices for the first year.

The Silicon Valley giant has pulled out all the stops to promote the service, which launches in 100 countries on Friday, with the stars of its flagship new series The Morning Show, Jennifer Aniston and Reece Witherspoon, spearheading the publicity push on both sides of the Atlantic.

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For All Mankind review – Apple's solid alt-space saga avoids crash landing
Posted on Thursday October 31, 2019

A splashy new series imagines what would have happened if Russia had won the space race with decent, if rarely compelling, results

Months of hype for Apple TV+ and the many A-list names attached has dramatically dissipated this week as reviews have revealed a ragtag bunch of half-formed shows that have replaced big ideas with big production values. It might therefore be faint praise to label glossy space race drama For All Mankind as the best of the bunch but it’s adequately entertaining and the first three episodes hint at the show it might become, something far better than it currently is.

Related: Dickinson review – Emily Dickinson reborn as a Lizzo-loving feminist

For All Mankind starts on Apple TV+ from 1 November

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Apple reports $64bn in revenue, citing strong wearables and services sales
Posted on Wednesday October 30, 2019

The favorable report drove the tech giant’s stocks up 2.5% on Wednesday, as the company expands its focus beyond the iPhone

Apple reported record-high quarter four earnings on Wednesday, citing strong performances in wearables and other services as the company continues to expand its focus beyond flagship products such as the iPhone.

The company reported a revenue of $64bn, beating a $63bn estimate from analysts.

Related: Apple Watch Series 5 review: the king of smartwatches

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Apple lets users opt out of having Siri conversations graded
Posted on Wednesday October 30, 2019

Software finally updated three months after practice revealed in Guardian report

Apple customers can now opt out of having their conversations with Siri listened to by human “graders” and delete any clips that have already been uploaded, three months after the Guardian revealed the practice based on a whistleblower report.

In the latest software updates for Apple’s products, including iOS 13.2 and macOS 10.15.1, users have the option to disable the grading feature while still using Siri as normal.

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Apple introduces non-binary emojis with new set of inclusive faces
Posted on Tuesday October 29, 2019

While celebrated, some in the LGBTQ community say it reinforces a fixed idea of what gender-neutral people should look like

Apple has expanded its emoji offerings on Monday to include non-binary versions of nearly every human emoji, including non-binary couple pairings.

The 328 new emoji designs came with the release of the company’s latest software update iOS 13.2. The non-binary emojis even extend to fantastical creatures such as merpeople, fae, and vampires.

I feel very critical of this bc i feel like it reinforces the idea that nonbinary/gnc people should have a particular look ? Like how do u determine that these emojis are how gender-neutrality should be represented or that these emojis even represent most gnc people https://t.co/S0zyDMXliU

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AirPods Pro: Apple launches noise-cancelling earbuds
Posted on Monday October 28, 2019

New silicone tips, noise cancelling and transparency modes in a similar design

Apple has launched a new set of its popular true wireless earbuds with traditional silicone tips and noise-cancelling software.

The AirPods Pro have a similar design to the current non-isolating AirPods, complete with white stalks and an ultra-compact case. But instead of a plastic duct that rests in your ear, allowing sounds from the outside world to be heard over music, the AirPods Pro aim to block it all out.

Best true wireless earbuds 2019: AirPods, Samsung, Jabra, Beats and Anker compared and ranked

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Five best phone grips to stop smashed screens
Posted on Monday October 28, 2019

If your phone is a bit too big, your hand hurts or you frequently drop it, these cheap accessories can help

Smartphones are getting bigger and heavier every year, but our hands aren’t. At some point something has to break. And when it does it’ll either be a sting in the wallet when your phone hits the ground or a pain in the hand as your constant finger stretching induces dreaded RSI.

There aren’t any really small smartphones on the market, just smaller phones that are often very expensive. And that doesn’t help you with the phone in your pocket right now, whether an iPhone 11 Pro Max, a Pixel 3 XL or Galaxy Note 10+. So the solution is some kind of accessory to help you keep a grip. Here are five of the best:

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Which is best: iPad Air or iPad Pro 11?
Posted on Thursday October 24, 2019

Len wants to replace a Samsung Tab S2. Should he buy the 11in iPad Pro or an iPad Air with extra storage?

I use a 9.7in Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 tablet for general browsing, emails, reading digital magazines and some very basic photo editing. It only has 32GB of storage so some apps are installed on its 128GB SD card. However, the battery is no longer what it was, and Samsung has not updated its version of Android, so it is still running Android 7.

I am thinking of getting a new iPad because Apple seems to support machines for longer, the apps seem better suited to my needs and, anecdotally, they appear to be more secure. On my budget, I can’t decide between an iPad Air with 256GB and an iPad Pro 11 with 64GB. Both will fit in my camera bag. Is it better to opt for a tablet with more built-in storage or one with a better processor? Len

The challenge for anyone designing a computing device – whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone – is to create a machine that is properly balanced to meet its user’s needs at the price being charged. This is not an exact science. It depends on the cost of major components such as the processor and memory, screen, graphics, storage modules, operating system and so on. But you trust them not to saddle low-end devices with the cost of high-end processors, or to compromise high-end devices by providing too little memory and/or storage space.

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Apple Watch Series 5 review: the king of smartwatches
Posted on Wednesday October 23, 2019

Always-on screen completes the package kicking competitors to the curb and becoming a top reason to buy an iPhone

When Apple launched its smartwatch in 2015 to a lukewarm reception, some critics claimed it would never take off like the iPod or iPhone. But sales of the Apple Watch quickly eclipsed every other smartwatch and with wearable technology sales soaring it is expected this year to outsell all of the Swiss watchmakers combined.

The latest Apple Watch Series 5 iteration, though still pricey at £399 and up, looks likely to continue the firm’s domination of the smartwatch market and deservedly so.

The default app view is still the old honeycomb matrix of apps, which is hard to use, but can be switched to an easier and faster simple list with a hard press

Taking calls on your wrist is novel and works amazingly well, but embarrassing when people stare at you in public (which is similar to attempting to talk to Siri)

4G is only useful if you happen to go out without your phone, so you can stay in touch seeing notifications, receiving messages and calls, or using maps if you’re lost

Pros: excellent haptics, always-on screen, ECG, great health tracking, great activity tracking, solid running watch, 50m water resistance, all-day battery life, offline music, loads of watch faces, quick-swap straps, comfortable, Apple Pay

Cons: expensive, only works with an iPhone, no sleep tracking, too popular

iPhone 11 review: an iPhone XR with a better camera

iPhone 11 Pro review: the best small phone available

iPhone 11 Pro Max review: salvaged by epic battery life

Sony WF-1000XM3 review: updated noise-cancelling earbuds sound great

Libratone Track Air+ review: the noise-cancelling AirPods Apple won’t give you

Bose Frames review: smart audio sunglasses are a blast

Best true wireless earbuds 2019: AirPods, Samsung, Jabra, Beats and Anker compared and ranked

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Google to add eye detection to Pixel 4 after privacy concerns
Posted on Monday October 21, 2019

Update will prevent new smartphone being unlocked using owner’s sleeping face

Google has said it will update its new Pixel 4 phones to prevent them being unlocked using the sleeping faces of their owners.

The phones, which are not yet in shops, are the first from Google to include a secure face unlock feature, in place of the fingerprint sensor used on previous iterations. The feature is also used to confirm payments and sign in to apps.

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Big tech, big profits? Amazon sales poised to leap 24%
Posted on Sunday October 20, 2019

Shares have risen fivefold in five years and despite the shadow over tech analysts bet Amazon is immune to a backlash

Remember when Silicon Valley was a force for good? With their young bosses, origins in garages and revolutionary products, US tech companies were worshipped for bringing information, choice and innovation to the world.

As reporting season for the US tech sector revs up this week the sheen has come off as campaigners, politicians and the wider public have asked questions about the darker side of the digital revolution. Facebook, Amazon, Google’s parent, Alphabet, Microsoft and Apple are all reporting in the next couple of weeks.

Related: Amazon's deal with Deliveroo examined by competition watchdog

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