Categories
Game

Nintendo’s ‘Splatoon 3’ widgets put stats and stages on your phone screen

Nintendo’s approach to online gaming has sometimes been awkward (having to use your phone just to chat, for example), but it just took an important step forward. The Verge reports Nintendo has updated the Switch Online apps for Android and iOS with Splatoon 3 home screen widgets. You can quickly review your recent game stats, gaze at your screenshot album and check the stage schedule to see when a favorite game mode will come into the rotation.

You can only slightly customize the widgets, and some occupy more screen real estate than others. You’ll need to clear some room if you want the stage schedule, while the photo album is relatively small. iPhone owners can also forget about iOS 16 lock screen widgets.

You’ll need a Switch Online subscription to use these features, although that isn’t surprising when they’re tied to the Splatoon 3 multiplayer experience. When combined with the game’s matchmaking improvements over Splatoon 2, though, they indicate that Nintendo is getting the hang of internet gaming.

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Categories
Game

ASUS’ ROG Phone 6D Ultimate has an even more elaborate cooling system

After the launch of the ROG Phone 6 Pro gaming phone, some hardcore fans were left wondering what happened to the “Ultimate” variant. As it turns out, ASUS waited for over two months before unveiling its “one more thing”: the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate. It’s identical to the 6 Pro in almost every way, except for four things: the new “space gray” color, the interesting choice of the MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ processor (which is what the “D” in “6D” stands for), the switch to the faster LPDDR5X RAM, and the new “AeroActive Portal” design for blowing cool air into its internal heat-dissipation fins — I’ll abbreviate this as heatsink from here onwards.

The AeroActive Portal itself is essentially a door flap that opens when the bundled AeroActive Cooler 6 is attached, so that a portion of the cool wind produced by the fan — at nearly 1,000cc per second — is guided through a wind tunnel and into the heatsink, with hot air coming out from the top slot. The heatsink is, of course, linked to the generously sized thermal layers covering the logic board and battery cells, in order to transfer heat from the components to the airflow. This is to help sustain a high frame rate over a longer period while gaming, as well as to ensure the phone is still comfortable to hold.

AeroActive Portal

Richard Lai/Engadget

ASUS claimed that after 60 minutes of Perfdog benchmarking on Genshin Impact at 60Hz in air cooling mode, the ROG Phone 6D reached 36.9°C (98.42°F), which was 3.4°C lower than the ROG Phone 6 in the same mode. It appears that the AeroActive Portal does make a notable difference. Likewise in “Frosty” and “Frozen” modes (with the Peltier thermoelectric cooling chip enabled), and it’s worth noting that the AeroActive Cooler 6 is the only Peltier-enabled cooler in the market that doesn’t require additional power externally — it only needs that for the more powerful “Frozen” mode.

While the AeroActive Portal only kicks in when an AeroActive Cooler 6 is attached, you can open it temporarily in settings for cleaning purposes. The flap is otherwise shut tight to safeguard the phone’s IPX4 splash resistance. It also has fall detection for automatically retracting the flap, and the stepping motor along with the zirconium alloy hinge are apparently good for over 40,000 flips — both of which are based on the learnings from the now-retired Flip Camera feature from the Zenfone series.

ROG Phone 6D Ultimate thermal design

ASUS

The 6D Ultimate packs the same set of key features as the 6 Pro: 165Hz 6.78-inch AMOLED display, 720Hz touch sampling rate, up to 512GB of storage, 6,000mAh battery, 65W fast charging (42 minutes), Dirac-tuned front-facing stereo speakers, ultrasonic “AirTiggers” and a customizable “ROG Vision” color display on the back. It’s also the same set of cameras: a 50-megapixel main camera with Sony’s IMX766 sensor, a 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera plus a 5-megapixel macro camera; and on the front, there’s a 12-megapixel selfie camera with a Sony IMX663 sensor.

For the processor, ASUS made the surprise switch to MediaTek for its Dimensity 9000+ processor, which apparently scores a tad higher than the ROG Phone 6’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. The company added that while the Snapdragon flagship chipset packs a better GPU, the Dimensity’s CPU is allegedly 10 percent more powerful (albeit with the same 3.2GHz maximum clock speed), and this is more crucial to most mobile games. The CPU is complemented by the faster LPDDR5X RAM as well, though this is the same reason as to why this is capped at 16GB instead of 18GB here.

ROG Phone 6D Ultimate thermal design

ASUS

The ROG Phone 6D Ultimate will be available across Europe very soon, with the sole model (16GB RAM with 512GB storage) priced at €1,399 (around $1,400) or £1,199. Again, this premium model comes bundled with an AeroActive Cooler 6. There’s also the ROG Phone 6D launching alongside, which is basically the ROG Phone 6 but packing MediaTek’s chipset and LPDDR5X RAM instead (also, it’s just an RGB logo instead of an ROG Vision screen on the back; and no AeroActive Portal, of course). This starts from €949 (around $950) or £799 with the 12GB RAM plus 256GB storage base model.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.

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Categories
Security

Twitter tests a special tag to highlight phone number-verified accounts

Elon Musk’s bot-baiting aside, Twitter has had many people call for changes to how it identifies accounts and what can be done to call out which ones are more legit than others. Now engineer Jane Manchun Wong has dug up a Twitter label that would put a mark on accounts with a verified phone number. She also noted another test feature showing view counts for tweets, which some users already have access to for their own tweets under the label of “analytics.” However, she said it’s unclear if this would be limited to the author or visible to everyone.

Linking an account to a number is one way to highlight that it was created with more effort than the simplest macro and could be used to filter out which tweets appear the most prominently or make it through the various levels of quality filters. Twitter also allows people to have the same phone number associated with up to ten different accounts, while developers can label automated accounts to let people know there isn’t a human behind each post.

Verified “blue check” accounts are already required to have a verified phone number or email address attached. When then-CEO Jack Dorsey talked about plans to allow verification for everyone, he mentioned having people verify facts about themselves, which could’ve been similar to how services like Airbnb and Tinder use phone numbers as part of their account verification processes.

However, encouraging users to link phone numbers to their accounts and display the status means securing that data becomes an issue. On August 5th, Twitter announced the details of an incident that allowed an attacker to discover 5.4 million account names associated with particular phone numbers and email addresses. By the company’s own account, the privacy flaw was introduced in a June 2021 update, wasn’t reported to Twitter until January, and Twitter was not aware the information had been stolen until July when media reports circulated that someone was trying to sell the database.

The 2020 hack that allowed attackers to tweet from Jack Dorsey and Joe Biden’s accounts about Bitcoin came about after the attackers social-engineered their way to using Twitter’s internal tools. Another report by Bloomberg noted that some contractors had used Twitter’s tools to spy on celebrity accounts, and earlier this month, a former employee was convicted on charges of spying after he used his position to “access the email addresses, phone numbers, and birth dates of users who were critical of the Saudi government.”

In May, Twitter agreed to a $150 million settlement for improperly using phone numbers and email addresses collected for two-factor authentication in its ad targeting, showing how leaky the data can be.

With midterm elections around the corner, there is pressure to make sure information posted on social media comes from real people or at least someone actually in the country they claim. The phone number tag could play a part in judging an account’s trustworthiness, but it’s unclear if or when Twitter could roll it out widely.



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Categories
Security

Hunter Biden phone hack claims test platforms’ misinformation policies

Once again, search and social media platforms are facing moderation challenges tied to data allegedly leaked from the president’s son’s devices.

Over the weekend, users of 4Chan’s /pol/ messageboard were whipped into a frenzy of excitement by one poster claiming to have hacked into Hunter Biden’s phone. Exact details are hard to confirm, but the original poster suggests they have used a tool called iPhone Backup Extractor to recover backup copies of the contents of an iPhone and iPad belonging to Hunter Biden — possibly by compromising his iCloud account and downloading the data from the cloud.

The 4Chan poster shared further instructions about how to decrypt the backup files, and other users began to share images, video, and messages allegedly taken from the phone. No news outlet has confirmed that the content is genuine, but Motherboard reports that at least some of the images shared on 4Chan haven’t previously appeared anywhere else online. Meanwhile, the Secret Service said on Monday evening that it was aware of the alleged hack but was “not in a position to make public comments on potential investigative actions.”

Some videos appear to show Hunter Biden smoking crack cocaine or in sexual encounters with women believed to be escorts. It’s great fodder for conservative pundits, but there’s no real argument that publishing these clips is in the public interest — especially since so much similar material emerged when the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive were shared with the New York Post in 2020. (Many of the details about his hard partying lifestyle were released by Hunter Biden himself in his 2021 memoir, Beautiful Things.)

There have been legitimate corruption concerns around Hunter Biden’s business links to China and Ukraine, but so far, no evidence of wrongdoing has been produced — and nothing from the latest leak gives any insight into those concerns. As a result, the story has been a difficult one for mainstream news outlets, with most outlets holding off on early coverage of the leak.

Twitter did not make any public statements about restricting links to the 4Chan posts and / or other references to the iCloud hack, though it is unclear what decisions may have been made behind the scenes. Twitter has a policy that prohibits the sharing of materials obtained by hacking, and while the hashtag #HunterBiden was listed as trending at the start of the week, it no longer seemed to be a visible trending topic on Tuesday afternoon. Twitter had not responded to questions about moderation sent by The Verge at time of publication.

Meta spokesperson Dave Arnold told The Verge that the content was permitted on Facebook, as references to the story were considered news.

“Despite these posts appearing to have come from hacked sources, they are still allowed as newsworthy content under our community standards,” Arnold said.

Google took more identifiable action, showing users a notification box for certain search terms related to the allegedly hacked material. In response to queries such as “hunter biden crack,” users were shown a message telling them that results were changing quickly, with a prompt to return later for more reliable information. Results then appeared below the message box.

Search terms related to the leaked data returned a notice from Google about quickly changing results.

Google spokesperson Ned Adriance told The Verge that the notices were first rolled out in June 2021 as part of the company’s attempt to boost information literacy by giving additional context around search results.

“These notices automatically appear when our systems detect that a topic is rapidly evolving, like in a breaking news situation, and a range of sources have not yet weighed in,” Adriance said. “There is no manual triggering involved … Our automated search systems don’t understand the political ideology of content, and it’s not a ranking factor for search results.”

Nonetheless, some conservative sources accused Google of censoring the search results, despite the fact that search hits did appear directly below the notice. It’s a sensitive topic, especially in connection with Hunter Biden, because of the aggressive moderation of the New York Post’s original story about the laptop. When the story was first released in 2020 — just a month before the presidential election — Facebook and Twitter both restricted sharing of the URL on the platforms, citing the need to limit the spread of potentially false information.

Google’s strategy seems designed to prevent the exploitation of “data voids”: search queries that turn up low-quality information in the time before well-researched material has been published to fill the gap. Emily Dreyfuss, a senior fellow on the Technology and Social Change team at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics, and Public Policy, says that Google is making the right call in this case by giving context without blocking results from being seen.

“As the most powerful arbiter of information online in the US, Google has a responsibility to prioritize high-quality information,” Dreyfuss said. “Here Google is informing the searcher that what they are looking for is contested in some way—it’s breaking news or the story is in flux—and therefore the results are not necessarily reliable, but importantly it is not censoring those results.”

The Google notification was similar to labels introduced by Twitter to deal with election misinformation in 2020, Dreyfuss said.

Update July 12th, 3:39PM ET: Story updated to include comment from Meta.



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Categories
Game

The ASUS ROG Phone 6 has a ‘wireless’ thermoelectric cooler add-on

Following the ROG Phone 5 and 5s, ASUS decided to skip Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in favor of the more efficient 8+ Gen 1, which brings us to the new ROG Phone 6 series today — almost a year after the 5s. In a nutshell, this beastly gaming phone is all about its faster 165Hz 6.78-inch display, 720Hz touch sampling rate, up to 18GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, bigger 6,000mAh battery, enlarged internal cooling system and IPX4 splash resistance, in addition to its handy ultrasonic triggers and proven audio performance by Dirac. The most notable change, however, lies within the revamped clip-on cooler, which has now integrated a thermoelectric chip and yet doesn’t require external power.

This new AeroActive Cooler 6 is noticeably bulkier than before, partly because of its larger, more ergonomic physical buttons — and there are now four of them instead of just two. It also has a bigger kickstand that flips out from the bottom (though not necessary), and there’s a spring-loaded clamp at the top to secure (and activate) the cooler. The new Peltier cooling chip inside — positioned right over the phone’s processor when mounted — is sandwiched between the fan and a large piece of copper plate, and there’s also a humidity sensor nearby to help avoid condensation.

ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro and AeroActive Cooler 6.

Richard Lai/Engadget

You can toggle between four cooling modes in the updated Armoury Crate app’s console: “Smart” is basically automatic, “Cool” is fan only, “Frosty” is fan plus Peltier chip, and “Frozen” is pushing the Peltier chip to the max, but this is only available when there’s external power plugged into the cooler. ASUS claims that in “Frozen” mode, the AeroActive Cooler 6 can lower the ROG Phone 6’s surface temperature by up to a staggering 25 degrees Celsius. The cool air blowing out of the two sides serves as a nice bonus for gamers with sweaty palms (like me).

The company also provided some figures from more realistic scenarios. After a 60-minute session in the notoriously resource-intensive Genshin Impact (at 60Hz), “Frosty” mode lowered the phone’s surface temperature from 44.8 degrees Celsius to 37.2, and “Frozen” mode took it down further by one degree. Under the same test environment, the ROG Phone 6 was apparently able to maintain an average frame rate of 59.7 fps while staying cool at 37.2 degrees Celsius in “Frosty” mode, whereas the iPhone 13 Pro Max apparently reached a lower 56.8 fps but higher 46.3 degrees Celsius, and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra allegedly only managed 47.3 fps while reaching 47.9 degrees Celsius. This goes to show how cooling is key to maintaining a stable frame rate over a long period. 

The AeroActive Cooler 6 can use its RGB lights to indicate the temperature of the ROG Phone 6 Pro.

Richard Lai/Engadget

Sadly, the AeroActive Cooler 6 — along with its own bumper case — is an optional accessory for the ROG Phone 6 series, so you’ll likely have to pay extra for this handy piece of kit. But there’s some good news for existing fans: ASUS plans to release a variant of this attachment for the ROG Phone 5 and 5s as well, and it’ll make use of the old pogo pins instead of the USB-C side port. Release date to be announced later.

The ROG Phone 6 series comes in two flavors: the regular ROG Phone 6 and the higher-end ROG Phone 6 Pro, with the main difference being the latter has the small “ROG Vision” PMOLED display on the back for showing off customizable animation graphics, as opposed to just having an RGB-illuminated ROG logo. Internally, the Pro packs up to 18GB of LPDDR5 RAM instead of just 16GB. The trade-off — if you want to call it that — on the Pro is that it only comes in “Storm White,” while the regular model also offers a “Phantom Black” version. Save for the different camera module layout, “ROG Vision” positioning and printed graphics, the two ROG Phone 6 variants bear a strong resemblance to their immediate predecessors — to the point where they can share the same glass screen protector and ROG Clip controller. 

An ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro mounted with an ROG Kunai 3 Gamepad at the bottom, with an AeroActive Cooler 6 with bumper case at the top left corner, and the gamepad's handheld grip at the top right.

Richard Lai/Engadget

The modular Kunai 3 Gamepad — now available in white as well as black — has once again been granted a life extension by way of a bumper designed for the ROG Phone 6. If you already have this controller since the ROG Phone 3 or 5, you’ll only need to get the new bumper in order to attach these Joy-Con-like sticks. Or you can just slot them into the same old gamepad grip and use the entire assembly wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The ROG Phone 6 packs an improved (apparently) main camera featuring a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 sensor, along with a 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 5-megapixel macro camera. On the other side, there’s a 12-megapixel selfie camera with a Sony IMX663 sensor — as seen on the compact Zenfone 8. The main rear camera is capable of shooting videos at up to 8K@24fps, though I’d imagine most people would default to 4K@60fps to get the best of both worlds.

The

Richard Lai/Engadget

On the software side, the ROG Phone 6 runs on Android 12 with ROG UI (you can switch to the less flashy Zen UI), with ASUS promising at least two major OS updates and at least two years of security updates. There’s the usual Armoury Crate app which is mainly for accessing your game library, as well as the console for customizing your system lighting, the rear “ROG Vision” screen (6 Pro only, of course), the AirTriggers and more. When in a game, you can toggle the redesigned “Game Genie” dashboard by swiping in from any of the two top corners of the screen while in either orientation. Here, you can quickly toggle the screen frame rate, key mapping, screen recording, performance modes, do not disturb, crosshair and more.

The new AirTriggers 6 now lets you map up to 14 specific touch points, and you get a total of nine input methods with these two ultrasonic buttons, including the new “press and lift” — basically toggling one set of actions for pressing down on the trigger, and then toggling another set of actions when lifting from the trigger. That said, casual gamers like myself will likely just use the classic tap (to fire) and maybe slide (to reload). If needed, you can also map motion gestures with touch points in Armoury Crate.

ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro mounted with an AeroActive Cooler 6.

Richard Lai/Engadget

The ROG Phone 6 series includes a bumper case and a 65W USB-PD charger (which takes just 42 minutes for a full charge). As far as availability goes, ASUS has only shared that the ROG Phone 6 series will start from €999 (around $1,000) for the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage configuration in Europe, whereas the ROG Phone 6 Pro will only have one version in Europe: 18GB RAM with 512GB storage for €1,299 (around $1,300). Prices and models will obviously vary across different countries, so stay tuned for further updates.

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Security

How to secure your phone before attending a protest

Back in June of 2020, when this article was first written, people were taking to the streets to organize for justice and protest against systemic racism and police brutality. Now, nearly two years later, people are again taking to the streets, this time to protest the possibility that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed people the right to terminate their pregnancies. There were protests across the country on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022, when the news hit; there are bound to be more in the coming weeks.

As a result, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit this examination of how you can protect your phone data when attending a protest. Here goes:

Be aware

If you’re attending or even just watching the protests, then be aware: not only is your phone a trove of information about you and the people you communicate with, but it also functions as a tracking device. That’s why it’s important to keep your digital footprint as small as possible — any evidence placing people at protests could be enough to get them arrested.

You should account for the fact that your phone may get lost, stolen, or broken. There’s also a risk of your phone being confiscated by authorities — which means that if they’re able to unlock your phone, they’ll have access to data on you and people you know. It could give authorities access to information about what is being organized and who is doing the organizing and might even give them the information necessary to shut down or prevent protests and arrest those involved.

In other words, it never hurts to prepare for the worst, especially considering recent events.

The steps we’ve listed here are a basic start toward protecting your privacy before you attend a protest, but there are additional precautions you can take. Circumstances and situations vary, and none of these methods is 100 percent foolproof, but they do offer increased security for you and your info.

Data security is an ongoing issue, and we’re still learning the ways in which information is collected and sold, what kinds are gathered, who gets access to them, and what can be learned from them. While the following strategies are important if you’re participating in a protest, they are also useful if you want to be careful in your everyday technology use.

Here are some strategies you should consider.

If you can, leave your phone at home

Your phone carries a lot of information about you specifically. When you take it to different locations, it can reveal where you live, where you work, and what protests or demonstrations you’ve attended. In addition, every app you use collects a certain amount of information on you and has a detailed log of your activity. So, for example, if you use Twitter or Instagram at a protest, that activity and your social media account get tied to the protest.

So it’s better to just avoid carrying all of that data with you. If you can, purchase and use a burner phone instead, and only turn it on when you’re at the site of the demonstration. Download and use more secure, encrypted apps for communication rather than the default text messaging apps on the phone (we’ll share some examples later).

If you’re bringing your own phone, back up your device in case it gets confiscated and remove all personally identifiable information from the phone. You can also wipe your phone entirely (after you’ve backed up all your stuff, of course) and add the apps and information you need to it. Try to keep your phone off unless you absolutely need to use it.

Use a password rather than biometrics to secure your data

It’s a good idea to change the settings on your phone so that you can’t unlock it using your fingerprint or facial recognition. These methods make it easier for someone else to get into your phone, especially if you’re there, and law enforcement can legally force people to unlock their phones using their fingerprint or facial recognition. Instead, use a passcode, PIN, or password, which are protected under the Fifth Amendment.

Adjust your settings so that you can’t see message content in notifications when your phone is locked. At the protest, try not to unlock your phone unless you absolutely have to. If you are taking photos and videos, try to access your camera without unlocking your phone. (On an Android phone, this varies depending on your model; for example, on a Pixel, you just press the Power key twice. On an iPhone, you can open the camera from the lock screen by long pressing on the camera icon in the lower right corner or swiping to the side of your lock screen.)

Encrypt your device

It’s always a good practice to encrypt your personal information, but in the event that your phone is confiscated, stolen, or lost, you don’t want any information linking you or others to the protests to fall into the hands of authorities (or anyone else). So if you haven’t done so already, now’s a good time to secure your device and any information on it.

It’s a quick and easy process. If you have an Android phone, go to Settings > Security> Advanced settings > Encryption & credentials > Encrypt phone. (As always, this may vary somewhat, depending on the phone’s manufacturer.)

For an iPhone, as long as you’ve set a passcode up and you see the text “Data protection is enabled” at the bottom of the Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode) page (which you’ll find in your Settings menu), your information is secure.

Turn on airplane mode

Your phone actually gives off a lot of information about you, including where you’ve been. And not only can those signals be intercepted, but they can also be used to locate you and connect you to others. So while you’re at a demonstration, you’ll want your phone to communicate as little information about you as possible.

Keep your phone off or put it on airplane mode, which turns off cellular data and Wi-Fi by default. This stops cell carriers from knowing where you are based on what cell towers you connected to. This will also protect against any stingray attacks, which is when a device pretends to be a cell tower and collects data, including location, from phones around it. Police have been accused of using stingrays, or cell-site simulators, to collect information about phones.

Airplane mode does not disable location services, so it’s a good idea to make sure all of those services are switched off. If airplane mode interferes with your activities, then switch off cellular data, Bluetooth, location services, and Wi-Fi individually, and only switch on what you need.

Use guided access or pin your screens

Android and iOS both have features that let you access one app while effectively locking the rest of the phone, so you can use that app while keeping the device secure. This is a safer way to post to social media or take photos during a protest, and it’s helpful in the event that you need to show someone, including law enforcement, something on your phone.

The iOS feature is called Guided Access. To enable it, go to Settings > Accessibility > Guided Access and toggle it on. Once it’s on, you’ll see additional settings such as setting the time limits for guided access and locking your display using a passcode.

To use Guided Access, open the app you would like to use. Press the home button three times, which will lock down all the other apps on your phone. (If you want to disable any specific features of the app you’re allowing access to, you can circle them on the screen.) You may need to press Start in the top right corner and enter a passcode in order to switch on Guided Access. To disable Guided Access, press the home button three times, then enter your passcode and tap End on the top left corner of the next screen.

On Android, the process is called app pinning. Go to Settings > Security > Advanced settings > App pinning and toggle it on. You can set it so it will ask for your PIN before unpinning. To pin an app, swipe up (if you’re using gesture navigation) or press the square Overview key at the bottom of your screen (if you’re using button navigation) to see all your open apps. When you see the app you want to pin, long-press the app’s icon at the top of its screen and select Pin. To unpin it, either swipe up and hold or long-press the back and Overview keys.

Use secure apps

If you’re using your own phone, or even if you’re using a burner phone, it’s a good idea to use especially secure apps. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a list of recommended tools to keep your phone secure, or you can try one of these.

For texting, one of the apps that’s most often recommended is Signal, a secure, open-source, end-to-end encrypted messaging app that doesn’t store message metadata. If you’re communicating about protests and demonstrations, this is one of the safest ways to do so. For added safety, you should also take advantage of some of its more secure features by adjusting your privacy settings to, for example, set up a PIN or use call relays. It also has a handy disappearing message feature that causes every message sent in a conversation to disappear after a specific time limit.

If you’re using an Android phone, you may want to use a more secure browser than Chrome. Chief among them is Tor (Android only), which protects your identity and information by bouncing your activity through a set of relays. Other security-minded browsers include Brave (Android and iOS), which is aggressively anti-advertising, and Vivaldi (Android only), which has a number of privacy-enhancing tools. If you’ve got an iPhone, Apple controls the security of its Safari browser pretty strictly (although there have been occasional blowups).

Finally, a search engine like DuckDuckGo won’t store your search history or connect it to your IP address.

Use a VPN

In or out of a demonstration, it’s always a good idea to download and set up a VPN on your phone. A VPN hides your activity by encrypting your connection. When choosing a VPN, you may want to look for those that are headquartered outside of the United States and Europe because companies in those countries are required to submit personal data to authorities if requested. Also keep in mind that VPNs that charge a subscription fee are usually more trustworthy than free ones.

Secure your social media accounts

If you want to protect your identity and keep the history of your personal (and business) tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media history private, consider creating a separate email account that isn’t linked to any personal information. You can then use that to create separate social media accounts for protest or demonstration photos and footage.

It’s also always a good idea to have two-factor authentication set up on all of your accounts.

If you’re taking photos and videos

Try not to take any photos or videos with identifying information about others without their consent. Be mindful of objects in the photos, such as street signs and landmarks, that may give away the location if that’s something you’d want to hide. Afterward, blur out other demonstrators and scrub the photos of any metadata.

If your device is confiscated

Don’t unlock it if at all possible. (As previously mentioned, your Fifth Amendment rights are covered if it’s locked using a PIN or password, but not if you can unlock it with a fingerprint or face image.) As soon as possible, change your passwords for any apps or accounts you have on there and disconnect your accounts from that device.

Update May 5th, 2022, 5:20PM ET: This article was originally published on June 4th, 2020. It has been updated to be more in sync with current events and to work with more recent software versions.

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Categories
Security

How to use your phone as a two-factor authentication security key

If you want to verify your Google login and make it harder to access by anyone but yourself (always a good idea), one way is to use your iPhone or Android smartphone as a physical security key. While you can set up a third-party 2FA app such as Authy or even use Google’s own Authenticator, these require that you enter both your password and a code generated by the app. Google’s built-in security allows you to access your account by just hitting “Yes” or pressing your volume button after a pop-up appears on your phone. You can also use your phone as a secondary security key.

Use your phone to sign in

To set this up, your computer should be running a current version of Windows 10, iOS, macOS, or Chrome OS. Before you start, make sure that your phone is running Android 7 or later and that it has Bluetooth turned on.

  • While it’s unlikely you have an Android phone that doesn’t have a Google account associated with it, if you’re one of the few, you need to add a Google account to your phone by heading into Settings > Passwords & accounts, scroll down to and select Add account > Google
  • Once that’s done, open a Google Chrome browser on your computer
  • Head into myaccount.google.com/security on Chrome and click on Use your phone to sign in

  • Enter your account password. You’ll be asked to satisfy three steps: choose a phone (if you have more than one), make sure you have either Touch ID (for an iPhone) or a screen lock (for an Android), and add a recovery phone number.

You’ll be asked to satisfy three steps.

You’ll be asked to satisfy three steps.

You’ll then be run through a test of the system and invited to turn it on permanently.

Use your phone as a secondary security key

You can also use your phone as a secondary security key to ensure that it is indeed you who are signing into your account. In other words, to get into the account, it will be necessary to be carrying the correct phone with a Bluetooth connection.

  • If you don’t have two-step verification set up yet, go back to your account security page, click on 2-Step Verification and follow the instructions. The TL;DR is that you’ll need to log in, enter a phone number, and select what secondary methods of verification you’d like.
  • Scroll down the list of secondary methods and select Add security key.
  • And again, select Add security key.

You can choose your phone, a USB drive or an NFC key to act as a security key.

You can choose your phone, a USB drive or an NFC key to act as a security key.

  • You’ll be given the choice of adding your phone (or one of your phones, if you have more than one) or a physical USB or NFC key. Select your phone.
  • You’ll get a warning that you need to keep Bluetooth on and that you can only sign in using a supported browser (Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge).

That’s it! You’ve set up your phone as a security key and can now log in to Gmail, Google Cloud, and other Google services and use your phone as the primary or secondary method of verification.

When you sign in to your Google account, your phone will ask you to confirm the sign-in.

When you sign in to your Google account, your phone will ask you to confirm the sign-in.

Your phone will then confirm your ID with your computer using Bluetooth.

Your phone will then confirm your ID with your computer using Bluetooth.

Just make sure your phone is in close proximity to your computer whenever you’re trying to log in. Your computer will then tell you that your phone is displaying a prompt. Follow the directions to verify your login, and you’re all set!

Update March 29th, 2021, 11:20AM ET: This article was originally published on April 12th, 2019, and has been updated to account for changes in the Google interface.

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Categories
Computing

How to Use Link to Windows to Connect Your Android Phone to a PC

Thanks to efforts from the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world, the gap between smartphones and computers has grown ever smaller. These days, you can get a desktop-like experience by booting up your iPad or by plugging your Samsung or Huawei phone into a spare monitor. But efforts to bridge the gap between phones and computers haven’t begun and ended with the desktop-like DeX mode, and if you own a compatible Samsung or Microsoft smartphone, you can use Link to Windows to connect your phone and your computer.

Using Link to Windows allows you to see your most recent photos, reply to messages, see notifications, and mirror your smartphone’s screen from your PC. Whether you’re a power user or more casual, it’s safe to say connecting your smartphone to your computer is useful. Here’s how to use Link to Windows to connect your Android phone to a PC.

Which phones and computers are compatible?

Of course, you first need a phone and computer that are compatible with Link to Windows. Link to Windows requires a Windows PC running Windows 10 and the May 10, 2019, update at the earliest. It also requires a compatible Android phone. The full compatibility list is available from Microsoft, but basically, you’re looking at most phones released by Samsung in the last three years, including Galaxy flagship devices back to the Galaxy S9 and the Microsoft Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2.

If you have one of those phones and a Windows 10 PC that meets the requirements, then move on to the next step, because we’re ready to start.

How to set up Link to Windows

You won’t need to download a new app on a Samsung phone to use Link to Windows, but you will need an app on your PC. Here’s how to link your phone and computer, and how to turn on notifications, too.

Step 1: Open the Windows Store by searching for it in your taskbar, and then search for Your Phone in the store.

Step 2: Install the app and tap Launch to open it. The app will ask you to choose between iPhone and Android. Since this guide concerns itself with Android phones, select Android, and move on to the next step.

Step 3: Next, you’ll need to link your phone to your PC. Go to your browser on your phone and type in the URL displayed on your PC. If you’re using a non-Samsung phone, you’ll need to download a companion app, but a Samsung phone will go straight to the linking process without an additional app download.

Step 4: Click Generate QR Code on your PC and scan the QR code using the screen that pops up on your phone. You may need to allow Phone Companion Permission to access your camera.

Step 5: The next step takes place on your phone. You’ll need to set up app permissions first to let your phone and PC play well together. Tap Continue and allow access to your contacts, phone, files, and SMS messages in order to turn on all of the features.

Step 6: Now shift back to your computer and click Get Started to open up the main Your Phone window.

Step 7: Make sure each section is set up correctly by clicking on each tab and following the tutorials to set up full access. For instance, for the Messages section, you’ll need to click See Texts, followed by Send Notification. If you’ve already allowed access to your phone, your messages should pop up in a few moments.

Step 8: Turning on notifications does require a few more steps to set up. Click Open Settings on Phone to open a list of apps. Scroll down the list until you find Your Phone Companion, and then tap the slider to turn it on.

Step 9: Tap Allow to allow access to notifications. This allows future notifications to pop up on your PC as well as your smartphone.

How to use Link to Windows

Now you’ve set up Link to Windows, you might be wondering what you can do with it. Here’s a brief explainer of each section and what you can get from each.

Receiving and customizing notifications

Any new phone notifications will pop up on your PC as they arrive, keeping you up to date without unlocking your phone. But if you’re getting overwhelmed with notifications, you can easily change your settings to exclude certain apps. Open Notifications and click Customize at the top right. From there, you can turn off notification banners, badges in the taskbar, and notifications from individual apps.

You can also click on a notification to open your phone screen on your PC. You’ll be able to control your phone through this window, allowing you to respond to messages on social media.

Receiving and answering messages

Clicking on Messages will open up a list of your most recent text messages. You can reply to messages from within the apps, and there’s no need to launch a screen mirror to reply or receive new messages. Essentially a beefed-up version of Android Messages’ web service, this is probably the simplest but most useful aspect of this app.

View and download recent photos

Photos is another simple and fairly self-evident tab. Here you’ll find your most recent photos, downloads, and screenshots. You can click on them to view them in your PC’s gallery app, share them through various messaging platforms, and save them directly to your computer.

Open and use apps without picking up your phone

One of the more interesting features of Link to Windows is the ability to launch and use any app on your phone through your PC. Open the Apps section to see a list of the apps currently installed on your phone. You can mark certain apps as favorites to see them above the list, and launch them by clicking on them. Your Phone will connect to your phone and open a window that mirrors your phone’s screen. Unlock your phone, and you’ll be able to use your phone as you would normally, but with a keyboard and mouse. This ability also extends to any games you might have installed, so you can explore New Eden in EvE Echoes without needing to pick up your phone.

Receive and place phone calls

If your PC has Bluetooth capabilities, then you can even use your PC to take and receive calls — which some may find a little more useful than playing Candy Crush. Simply select Calls to make and receive phone calls and hear them through your speakers and microphone or headset.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
AI

How Hiya taps AI to kill phone spam

Hear from CIOs, CTOs, and other C-level and senior execs on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit this January 12, 2022. Learn more


Have you noticed that you’re getting more calls correctly identified as spam on your phones? Well, Hiya probably has something to do with that.

The Seattle, Washington-based startup, with major clients in telecoms, is using artificial intelligence to detect 20% more illegal and unwanted calls than existing technologies currently do, CEO and founder Alex Algard told VentureBeat.

The company last week introduced what it calls adaptive AI as an addition to its Hiya Protect product, which is used by wireless carriers, smartphone makers, and app developers as part of its service packages. It’s available in services such as AT&T Call Protect, Samsung Smart Call, and the Hiya app.

Algard said the new technology is informed by live data streams from carriers, devices, and apps. “Adaptive AI observes the patterns left by spammers in the network traffic and adapts in real-time to block them without the need for human retraining or historical data,” he said.

The company claims its new capability is much more effective than conventional tactics that only react to known phone numbers used by spammers. The AI adaptivity comes into play when spammers change numbers or carriers, which Algard said happens constantly.

How much phone spam is there?

To quantify the scale of the phone spam, Hiya, which has roughly 200 million, active users, through its carrier clients, offered these statistics:

  • More than 50 billion spam calls are made to Americans each year (16 per month per user)
  • Hiya analyzes more than 13 billion calls per month
  • 94% of unidentified calls go unanswered
  • About one-third of Americans lose money to phone scams each year. On average, each victim lost $182 to phone scams last year. This means Americans collectively lost about $14 billion to scam calls in 2020.

The most common ways scammers make money is by stealing personal information, selling fake products, services, or gaining access to financial accounts. An increasing number of spammers are deploying illegal tactics to generate business leads for legitimate or illegitimate businesses, such as car or computer warranty calls.

Algard said he started Hiya in 2016 as a spin-out from the previous company he founded, WhitePages.com.

“WhitePages is a directory service site. We identified some potential use cases that we thought we could build an incubator business around — basically, a caller ID service on the old landlines,” Algard said.

“We thought it was odd that on mobile devices, there was no caller ID. So we figured that with the advent of mobile apps, we could actually solve that use case with an automated caller ID service for people who just download the app that we provided. And that turned out to get a lot of consumer interest; tons of people downloaded the app.”

How Hiya puts AI to work

Alex Algard shared the following additional insights in an interview with VentureBeat regarding how technologists, data architects, and software developers can use adaptive AI.

VentureBeat: What AI and ML tools are you using specifically?

Algard: Hiya has unique needs in developing models that can handle the challenges that the scale and volume of voice networks pose. The primary workload is the call analysis load, which must run in real time on live data streams, must be very low latency, and high throughput; fast enough to analyze calls as they are being made; and scale to analyze over 1 billion API calls per day.

This primary workflow is supported by our proprietary Hiya MLOps system that we’ve fine-tuned to our problem. It includes internal ML-model lifecycle management and an ensemble-based prediction system to capture the many telecom scammer scenarios and geographies that we deal with to provide global call protection.

For other workloads, we pull from numerous ML platforms as needed. For example, we use Sagemaker to create, train, and deploy systems that look at a robocall’s network characteristics and analyze recordings.

VentureBeat: Are you using models and algorithms out of a box — for example, from DataRobot or other sources?

Algard: Because of the unique challenges of live data streams and the scale of the networks we run on, we are building and maintaining our own custom frameworks. Out-of-the-box or auto-ML solutions haven’t proven to be a viable solution for the size and scale of the issues we’re tackling.

VentureBeat: What cloud service are you using mainly?

Algard: We use AWS and are expanding to support Microsoft Azure.

VentureBeat: Are you using a lot of the AI workflow tools that come with that cloud?

Algard: We use underlying AWS services such as EC2 and DynamoDB for computing, data storage, and global synchronization. And for data post-processing and data prep, we use tools from multiple sources: AWS Glue, Apache Airflow, Zeppelin, Jupyter, etc.

VentureBeat: How much do you do yourselves?

Algard: Quite a lot. Scammers and illegal callers are sophisticated and constantly changing tactics to avoid detection. We’ve invested in a dedicated team of data scientists that focus on the illegal caller industry and are constantly iterating and adjusting our AI model engine to keep pace with them. Many of the models we employ are on their fifth or sixth generation as we refine them to take on specific scammer tactics. We are active in the AI/ML community and make use of the latest technologies and approaches when we can, but often we have to develop new approaches on our own. Adaptive AI is an example of an approach that we’ve had to develop in-house.

VentureBeat: How are you labeling data for the ML and AI workflows?

Algard: Data labeling is the most important aspect of what we do that makes Hiya so effective at defeating illegal callers globally. We’ve made the investment to do this in-house because of its impact on our accuracy. We use data from several sources, including call event data from the Hiya network, scam traps, user reports, federal compliance data, STIR/SHAKEN, and custom data sources from our carrier and distribution partners.

VentureBeat: Can you give us a ballpark estimate on how much data you are processing?

Algard: Hiya deals with an incredible amount of data: 200M users worldwide, 450,000 ML models recalculations per second, and 20GB/hour of ML model changes pushed to our edge service. Our model recalculation requires the biggest AWS EC2 instance available.

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Categories
Game

Razer Black Friday deals include huge discounts for Kishi phone controllers

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

A ton of Razer accessories for Black Friday, including mice, headsets, keyboards and a gaming chair. There are all-time lows on a bunch of products too. One of the better deals is for the wireless mouse. The price has dropped to $90, which is $60 off the regular price. The Viper Wireless is available in both and . It’s an ambidextrous mouse that has Razer’s optical switches, a 20K DPI optical sensor and low-latency HyperSpeed wireless tech.

Buy Viper Ultimate (Black) at Amazon – $90
Buy Viper Ultimate (White) at Amazon – $90

Another wireless mouse worth checking out in the sale is the . It too has a 20K DPI Optical Sensor and optical switches. You’ll get up to 120 hours of battery life over Bluetooth or 70 hours via HyperSpeed, according to Razer. It’s available for at the moment, which is the lowest price we’ve seen to date. The mouse typically costs $130.

Buy DeathAdder v2 Pro at Amazon – $70

Also hitting all-time-low prices are the iOS and Android versions of the Kishi controller. It’s a gamepad that you can clip your phone into. Along with playing native mobile games, you can use it with the likes of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Google Stadia, Amazon Luna and GeForce Now for cloud gaming, as well as games streamed from your console or PC. The Android version of the controller is ($35 off) and the iPhone model is currently (down $40).

Buy Razer Kishi (Android) at Amazon – $45
Buy Razer Kishi (iPhone) at Amazon – $60

Elsewhere, the Kraken X Ultralight wired gaming headset is worthy of attention. It has a bendable, noise-canceling mic and is compatible with PC and all consoles. The classic black verison of the headset, which is typically $50, currently costs , another all-time low.

Buy Razer Kraken X Ultralight at Amazon – $30

Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by visiting our deals homepage and following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



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