The Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, and 8th-gen iPad hit store shelves

Three days after they were all announced in a livestream on Tuesday, three new Apple products are arriving at consumers’ doorsteps and available at retail: the Apple Watch Series 6, the Apple Watch SE, and the 8th-generation iPad.

The Apple Watch Series 6 adds new color options (like blue aluminum, gold stainless steel, graphite stainless steel, and Product Red red), an altimeter, and blood oxygen level monitoring, among other features. It succeeds the Series 5 as Apple’s flagship watch and offers the key features of its predecessor as well, like an always-on display. The Series 6 is available in two sizes and starts at $399, but that price can go way up, depending on the customization options like material or band.

The Apple Watch SE doesn’t have an always-on display, but it’s a lot cheaper. It offers a more basic set of features—but it includes most of the sensors in the Series 6—for $279 and up. That said, it’s not the lowest-end Apple Watch; the Series 3 is still available for $199 and up, making that the cheapest option.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

NBC Threatens To Black Out Apps on Roku in Dispute Over Peacock

NBCUniversal plans to black out more than 11 channels on Roku’s streaming platform Saturday morning, escalating a standoff with the company over its refusal to carry a new video app, Peacock. From a report: NBC’s Peacock and AT&T’s HBO Max have been unable to secure spots on Roku and Amazon.com’s Fire TV since launching their streaming services earlier this year. Roku is demanding, among other things, a cut of the advertising inventory on those apps to sell on its own. Comcast’s NBC and WarnerMedia, the AT&T division that runs HBO Max, are rejecting that push because they want to make money from ads on their streaming services. In a statement Friday, NBC said Roku’s “unreasonable demands ultimately hurt both their consumers and their consumer equipment partners to whom they’ve promised access to all apps in the marketplace.” Roku used similar wording in a statement. “Comcast is removingâthe channels in order to try to force Roku to distribute its new Peacock service on unreasonable terms,,” a spokesperson said.

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AT&T Considers Cellphone Plans Subsidized by Ads

AT&T is considering offering wireless phone plans partially subsidized by advertising as soon as a year from now, Chief Executive John Stankey said in an interview on Tuesday. From a report: The consideration, which has not been previously disclosed, underscores AT&T’s commitment to the advertising business as the U.S. phone carrier reviews its portfolio to identify assets to sell in order to reduce its debt load. AT&T is considering selling its advertising-technology unit Xandr, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters. “I believe there’s a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill,” Stankey said. Various companies including Amazon.com, Virgin Mobile USA and Sprint’s Boost Mobile have tested advertising supported phone services since the early 2000s but they have not caught on. AT&T is hoping that better advertising targeting could revive the idea.

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Comcast shut off Internet to hundreds, saying they were illegally connected

A Comcast/NBC logo.

(credit: Comcast)

Comcast says that a broadband reseller illegally sold Comcast Internet service in residential buildings in the Denver area and has terminated the connections to those buildings.

As reported by Denver7 this week, the shutoff affected hundreds of people who live in buildings serviced by AlphaWiFi, “which installs and services Internet in approximately 90 apartment buildings across Denver.” The shutoff came as a surprise to residents, including Kaley Warren, who has been working at home during the pandemic:

“It is my entire lifeline,” said Warren, who said that without warning last Friday, her Internet service disappeared. “I felt lost. It was truly the first time during the pandemic that I was had the feeling of ‘What am I supposed to do?'”

When contacted by Ars, a Comcast spokesperson said that “AlphaWiFi is under a standard commercial agreement which expressly prohibits the resale of Comcast services.” Comcast did not answer questions about how many people were affected and when they will get service restored, but it did provide us with the same statement it previously gave to Denver7, which says:

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Biz & IT – Ars Technica

Bill To Tear Down Federal Courts’ Paywall Gains Momentum in Congress

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the Open Courts Act — legislation to overhaul PACER, the federal courts’ system for accessing public documents. The proposal would guarantee free public access to judicial documents, ending the current practice of charging 10 cents per page for many documents — as well as search results. From a report: The bill must still be passed by the full House and the Senate and signed by the president. With Election Day just seven weeks away, the act is unlikely to become law during this session of Congress. Still, the vote is significant because it indicates the breadth of congressional support for tearing down the PACER paywall. The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), whose bill we covered in 2018, and a fellow Georgian, Democrat Hank Johnson. Prior to Tuesday’s vote of the House Judiciary Committee, the bill received a strong endorsement from Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). “It is indefensible that the public must pay fees, and unjustifiably high fees at that, to know what is happening in their own courts,” Nadler said.

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Trump To Ban US TikTok and WeChat App Store Downloads on September 20

The US Commerce Department has issued a new order to block people in the US from downloading the popular video-sharing app TikTok as of September 20th, Reuters first reported Friday. From a report: The full order was published by the Department of Commerce on Friday morning. “Any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd,” the order reads, “shall be prohibited to the extent permitted under applicable law.” It is set to take effect on September 20th. Over the last few weeks, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, has been engaged in talks with US companies like Microsoft and Oracle to create a new company, TikTok Global, that would meet the Trump administration’s concerns over user data security.

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Facebook Issues New Rules On Internal Employee Communication

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday outlined to employees a new set of principles to guide debates and conversations within Workplace, the company’s internal social network. Zuckerberg outlined the changes to address “a lot of very tense conversations happening out in the world,” according to company spokesman Joe Osborne. The new principles follow a set of similar changes at Google, which is increasing the moderation of its internal message boards, CNBC reported earlier this week.

“We deeply value expression and open discussion. What we’ve heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed,” Osborne said in a statement. “We’re updating our employee policies and work tools to ensure our culture remains respectful and inclusive.” Under the new set of principles, Zuckerberg said, Facebook will ensure all employees feel supported at work, especially the company’s Black community, by strengthening the company’s harassment policy with more protections for underrepresented employees. The company will also be more specific about which parts of Workplace can be used to discuss social and political issues. This change will be so that employees do not have to confront social issues during their day-to-day work. Facebook’s new principles also ask that employees communicate with professionalism and continue to debate about the company’s work but do so in a respectful manner.

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A bevy of new features makes iOS 14 the most secure mobile OS ever

Multiple smartphones on table.

Enlarge / From left to right: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Eleven months ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook declared privacy a “fundamental human right.” The affirmation came as the iPhones his customers carry in their pockets store ever more sensitive information and the company seeks to make privacy a key differentiator as it competes with Google and other rivals.

On Wednesday, the company sought to make good on its commitment with the release of iOS 14. It introduces a bevy of privacy features designed to give iPhone users more control over their personal information. The protections are intended to rein in app developers, online providers, and advertisers who all too often push the limits of acceptable data collection, assuming they don’t fully step over the line.

I spent a little more than an hour testing some of the features. Here’s a brief description of each, how to use them, and some first-blush impressions of how some work.

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Biz & IT – Ars Technica

iOS 14 on the iPhone 6S and SE: Performance is fine, other stuff is not

Two smartphones side by side.

Enlarge / The iPhone 6S (left) and first-generation iPhone SE (right) running iOS 14. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

It’s September, and you know what that means: shorter days, the first tentative tinge of chill in the night air, Halloween candy at the grocery store, and—most relevantly for us—a new version of iOS.

Apple supports its own phones with new software updates for years longer than any of the Android phone makers do, but that doesn’t mean that using a new version of iOS on the oldest-supported hardware is always pleasant. For iOS 14, that hardware is the iPhone 6S and the original 4-inch iPhone SE, the same as it was for iOS 13.

Originally released in late 2015 (the 6S and 6S Plus) and early 2016 (the SE), both phones include an Apple A9 processor and 2GB of RAM, and both devices boast the bare minimum you need for things like augmented reality apps or hardware accelerated decoding of h.265/HEVC video. In the move from iOS 12 to iOS 13, we found that the phones slowed down a little but remained perfectly usable; the same was true of iPadOS on older hardware, which we didn’t re-test this time around. This year, we were pleasantly surprised on the performance front, but the second-generation iPhone SE makes upgrading much easier to justify now than it was last year.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

Sony Makes It Official: PlayStation 5 Won’t Natively Support PS1, PS2, PS3

In a Wednesday interview, Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Jim Ryan confirmed that the upcoming PlayStation 5 console won’t natively support PS1, PS2, or PS3 games. Ars Technica reports: Ryan explained that “PS5-specific engineering” meant the design team was mostly focused on “the simultaneous use of high-speed SSDs and the new DualSense controller.” This prevented Sony from delivering compatibility with older consoles, Ryan told Famitsu, even though he made clear that Sony wanted to support PlayStation 4’s “100 million players” by developing compatibility with “99%” of PS4 games, since “we thought that they would like to play PS4 titles on the PS5, as well.”

This announcement doesn’t clarify whether PS1 games purchased for use on PS4 will transfer to PS5. It also doesn’t mention the existing ability for players to stream older-generation games to PS4 from the PlayStation Now cloud-subscription service or whether we should expect that functionality to seamlessly transfer to PS5 in November. […] Wednesday’s dump of PlayStation 5 news did not go into further detail about additional boosts to PS4 games as played on the upcoming console. Instead, we learned that some major PlayStation 5 games, particularly Horizon: Forbidden West and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, will launch simultaneously on PS5 and PS4. This appears to run somewhat counter to Sony’s recent comments about maintaining “generations” instead of supporting an Xbox-style “forward-compatible” plan for its biggest games.

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