Apple’s iOS operating system is generally considered secure, certainly enough for most users most of the time. But in recent years hackers have successfully found a number of flaws that provide entry points into iPhones and iPads. Many of these have been what are called zero-click or interactionless attacks that can infect a device without the victim so much as clicking a link or downloading a malware-laced file. Time and again these weaponized vulnerabilities turned out to be in Apple’s chat app, iMessage. But now it appears that Apple has had enough. New research shows that the company took iMessage’s defenses to a whole other level with the release of iOS 14 in September.
At the end of December, for example, researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab published findings on a hacking campaign from the summer in which attackers successfully targeted dozens of Al Jazeera journalists with a zero-click iMessages attack to install NSO Group’s notorious Pegasus spyware. Citizen Lab said at the time that it didn’t believe iOS 14 was vulnerable to the hacking used in the campaign; all the victims were running iOS 13, which was current at the time.
Samuel Groß has long investigated zero-click iPhone attacks alongside a number of his colleagues at Google’s Project Zero bug-hunting team. The week, he detailed three improvements that Apple added to iMessage to harden the system and make it much more difficult for attackers to send malicious messages crafted to wreak strategic havoc.
“These changes are probably very close to the best that could’ve been done given the need for backward compatibility, and they should have a significant impact on the security of iMessage and the platform as a whole,” Groß wrote on Thursday. “It’s great to see Apple putting aside the resources for these kinds of large refactorings to improve end users’ security.”
In response to Citizen Lab’s research, Apple said in December that “iOS 14 is a major leap forward in security and delivered new protections against these kinds of attacks.”
iMessage is an obvious target for zero-click attacks for two reasons. First, it’s a communication system, meaning part of its function is to exchange data with other devices. iMessage is literally built for interactionless activity; you don’t need to tap anything to receive a text or photo from a contact. And iMessage’s full suite of features—integrations with other apps, payment functionality, even small things like stickers and memoji—make it fertile ground for hackers as well. All those interconnections and options are convenient for users but add “attack surface,” or potential for weakness.
“iMessage is a built-in service on every iPhone, so it’s a huge target for sophisticated hackers,” says Johns Hopkins cryptographer Matthew Green. “It also has a ton of bells and whistles, and every single one of those features is a new opportunity for hackers to find bugs that let them take control of your phone. So what this research shows is that Apple knows this and has been quietly hardening the system.”
Groß outlines three new protections Apple developed to deal with its iMessage security issues at a structural level, rather than through Band-Aid patches. The first improvement, dubbed BlastDoor, is a “sandbox,” essentially a quarantine zone where iMessage can inspect incoming communications for potentially malicious attributes before releasing them into the main iOS environment.
The second new mechanism monitors for attacks that manipulate a shared cache of system libraries. The cache changes addresses within the system at random to make it harder to access maliciously. iOS only changes the address of the shared cache after a reboot, though, which has given zero-click attackers an opportunity to discover its location; it’s like taking shots in the dark until you hit something. The new protection is set up to detect malicious activity and trigger a refresh without the user having to restart their iPhone.
iOS 14.5 includes a major enhancement for using Face ID on your iPhone while wearing a mask. With the first developer beta of iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, your iPhone will now automatically unlock when you’re wearing a face mask.
In addition to App Tracking Transparency controls and support for AirPlay 2 with Apple Fitness+, iOS 14.5 includes this notable change to how Face ID works with face masks.
As reported by Joanna Stern from The Wall Street Journal, the new “Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch” feature works when Face ID detects that you’re wearing a face mask. If you’re wearing a mask, Stern explains, and have an unlocked Apple Watch on your wrist, your iPhone will unlock with Face ID.
If you spot any other changes in iOS 14.5 beta 1, or the other new betas from Apple today, let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @9to5Mac. Stay tuned for our full hands-on coverage with the new releases right here at 9to5Mac today.
More to come..
It includes a new feature: Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch while wearing a mask. If you are wearing a mask and have an unlocked Apple Watch on your wrist, you can unlock FaceID on your iPhone.
Built by a DJ, for DJs, Prolink Tools is a free, open-source software that helps streamers display track info from external Pioneer DJ gear onto their computers. After spending years livestreaming and dealing with messages asking for track IDs from his sets, founder and creator Evan Pukhiser created the software to provide the data for his viewers in real time.
After developing Prolink Tools for approximately six years, Pukhiser has created a program that’s both easy to use and helpful to have.
How it works
The Prolink Tools app participates in Pioneer’s Pro DJ Link network, so any gear that you have with Pro DJ Link is usable here. It uses the protocol to fetch metadata in real time from the hardware to determine when a track is playing, and pulls it into the app running on your computer. The software is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
The software has been developed with more updates, according to Pukhiser, to provide proper metadata in regards to timing. He explained to the DJTT team that
“I’ve actually built it to be a little smarter even, so that it will only show new tracks once they have been playing for 64 bars and only if that track is on-air (as indicated by the red CDJ platters). This is one of the key features that ensure’s what track you’re planning to play next doesn’t appear too early on in the transition.”
Take a look at this demo video from Purkhiser:
Using it on your livestream
Want to add this into your next livestream event? Once you’ve got the software linked up and the data flowing, you can embed the Prolink Tools overlay in your livestream with software like OBS or StreamLabs. All you’ll need to do is copy the overlay URL exposed in the interface, and use the Browser Source plugin to render it on the stream.
Where it’s going
Eventually, Purkhiser plans to build out Prolink to be more than just a now-playing overlay. A few features he mentioned adding down the road include:
A growing community & a tool that continues to improve
The project is continuing to grow and iterate as Purkhiser chats with users and considers their experiences as he develops the product further. Though he originally had built the software for himself, he finds that “real users will always have interesting ideas or find interesting ways to break things”. What better way to make your product better, than to throw it to the masses of DJs out there for free?
There’s an entire community growing around Prolink Tools, with a discord channel you can join if you’re interested. Check out the User Manual for any questions or details you need, too.
Try it out for yourself and let us know what you think. You can download the software for free here.
Samsung’s Galaxy S series is often the standard-bearer for Android smartphones – especially in North America – and so it’s only natural that they get compared to Apple’s iPhones. In this comparison, we’re going to pit the two “middle-child” devices Apple’s and Samsung’s latest flagships against each other – how does the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus fare against the iPhone 12 Pro?
Samsung Galaxy S21+ vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro: Specifications and Comparison
One of the fun things about using Android is that brands are more willing to switch their style up year to year. And so, while the iPhone 12 Pro mostly looks like the iPhone 11 Pro on the front and the back, which itself didn’t look too different from the iPhone XS and iPhone X, the Galaxy S21 Plus has a mostly never-before-seen design thanks to its unique looking camera module. Dubbed “contour cut” by Samsung, half of the Galaxy S21’s camera module blends seamlessly into the aluminum chassis. It’s a look and design that hasn’t been done before and gives the Galaxy S21 Plus a striking look.
The iPhone 12 Pro has that now-iconic iPhone notch around the front, while the Galaxy S21 Plus is mostly an uninterrupted display save for a small hole punch-out. Back in the pre-pandemic days, one could argue the iPhone notch is worth it because Face ID is so useful – but in today’s age of constant mask-wearing, having facial recognition as the only form of biometric security has become a big hassle. When you consider that the in-display fingerprint sensor of the Galaxy S21 series has improved yet again (it’s 1.7x larger than last generation’s sensors), it’s a no-brainer – I’ll take a small hole-punch over a notch any day. The Galaxy S21 Plus’ display also gets brighter (at a max 1500 nits brightness), refreshes at a higher rate (dynamically adjusting between 48Hz and 120Hz), and has a higher resolution.
While I personally prefer the Galaxy S21 Plus’ looks over the iPhone 12 Pro, that’s just my subjective opinion. When it comes to construction and durability, the iPhone 12 Pro is objectively more sturdy, due to the flat stainless steel railings compared to the Galaxy S21 Plus’ thinner aluminum chassis. With that said, however, I find the Galaxy S21 Plus more comfortable to hold due to its narrower aspect ratio and more rounded sides.
Software and Special Features
The Galaxy S21 Plus runs One UI 3.1 over Android 11; the iPhone 12 Pro runs iOS 14. There’s not much point in comparing both the OS too in-depth, as each side has its loyalists who are firmly entrenched within those ecosystems. I personally prefer Android over iOS due to the extra customization, a more coherent filing system, and the ability to run two or more apps at the same time. One UI 3.1, unlike previous Samsung software skins, doesn’t interrupt with Android too much, and the additional features it brings are mostly welcomed, except all the bloat Samsung apps such as Bixby.
Where Apple’s iOS wins is ecosystem integration. Whether it’s sending files from an iPhone 12 Pro to a MacBook via AirDrop, or recording a voice memo on an Apple Watch and have that file immediately be available on the iPhone or iPad, or the way you can use an iPhone as a remote control for Apple TV, there’s just a more mature ecosystem of products, closer integration, and superior third-party app support to Samsung’s ecosystem. Samsung is trying and making progress, however: the Galaxy Buds Pro that was released alongside the Galaxy S21 series can switch between the Galaxy S21 Plus and, say, a Galaxy Tab S7. The Galaxy Watch 3 that was released in late 2020 is also arguably the most capable Android smartwatch and comes as close to the Apple Watch 5 as any other wearable. There’s still plenty of room to improve, so Apple goes ahead in this one.
The Galaxy S21 Plus is more versatile as a computing device, however, since its software can double as a desktop computer if you plug it into a screen and pair it with a keyboard — Samsung calls this feature DeX. The iPhone 12 Pro remains just a phone.
With 5nm chips powering each device — neither phone is short on raw horsepower. Technically speaking, Apple’s A14 Bionic still beats Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 in benchmarks, but it’s not like the gap is tangible in real-world usage scenarios.
In fact, the Galaxy S21 Plus sometimes feels faster, mostly because of that 120Hz refresh rate. Basic animations such as closing apps feel zippier on the Galaxy S21 Plus than on the iPhone 12 Pro.
Gaming on both phones is absolutely no issue, as expected. Editing videos seems to be superior on the iPhone 12 Pro — the native camera app allows trimming and cropping, not to mention it renders faster — than on the Galaxy S21 Plus, but part of this is due to software more than just raw processing power.
Both phones have a triple camera system covering the now standard wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto focal lengths. The iPhone 12 Pro keeps it consistent with a trio of 12MP sensors, while the Galaxy S21 Plus uses a 12MP sensor for its main and ultra-wide, but uses a 64MP sensor for zooming.
In theory, the Galaxy S21 Plus’ more pixel-dense telephoto camera should be better at zooming further because there are more pixels for Samsung to play with to create what is essentially a digital magnification of an image. But in practice, each phone trade wins depending on the focal length. In general, the Galaxy S21 Plus is going to produce a sharper shot at 10x, but at 2x, the iPhone 12 Pro’s images exhibit more details.
2x zoom, S21 Plus (left) and iPhone 12 Pro (right)
The iPhone 12 Pro’s 2x zoom shots are consistently sharper than the same shots by the S21 Plus.
2x zoom, S21 Plus (left) and iPhone 12 Pro (right)
But push that zoom up to 10x, then the Galaxy S21 Plus takes the lead due to having more pixels for Samsung’s software to play with.
10x zoom, S21 Plus (left) and iPhone 12 Pro (right)
The Galaxy S21 Plus can push zoom beyond 10x, up to 30x maximum. But ultimately, because the Galaxy S21 Plus uses a basic telephoto zoom lens setup and not a Periscope lens, its zooming prowess is limited.
As for the other two cameras (main and ultra-wide), both phones produce very good photos that are almost too close to call during the day. In general, the Galaxy S21 Plus’s 12MP sensor takes in more light, but this also means photos with stark contrast such as shadows lose some of their mood. The iPhone 12 Pro also keeps color more accurate almost to a fault, as some of the indoor shots exhibit a blue-ish tint due to the curtains in my co-working space. Samsung tends to fix colors slightly to produce what it thinks are punchier shots.
In low light situations, however, the iPhone 12 Pro consistently produced sharper images with less noise. It helps Apple’s case that its night mode kicks in automatically and feels rather seamless, whereas on the Galaxy S21 phones you have to swipe to the “more” section of the camera app to manually bring up night mode. This is good for average users, but users who prefer being in control of the shot would appreciate Samsung’s approach. To switch off Night Mode on the iPhone 12 Pro, you need to tap on the yellow icon on the upper left corner of the viewfinder and then manually change the dial to 0 — a maneuver that is certainly not quick and ideal.
Galaxy S12 Plus (left), iPhone 12 Pro (right)
The iPhone 12 Pro also takes the win in video performance — although the gap this year is closer than ever. In the video samples below, you can see the Galaxy S21 Plus keeps up with the iPhone 12 Pro in dynamic range and even basic stabilization as I walk. However, when I panned the camera quickly at the 0:10 mark, the Galaxy S12 Plus footage suffers from the usual micro-jitters that have always affected Android phones more so than iPhones. At night, the Galaxy S21 Plus’ micro-jitter problem increases, but it also brings in more light than the iPhone 12 Pro in dark areas, most notably the shadow-drenched plants at the 0:24 mark.
In terms of endurance, the Galaxy S21 Plus’ 4,800 mAh cell is significantly larger than the iPhone 12 Pro’s 2,815 mAh battery (as per certification listings). However, factoring that the Galaxy S21 Plus’s display is more power-hungry, and Android phones are less battery-efficient than the iPhone 12 Pro, endurance may be close. I have used the iPhone 12 Pro extensively and found battery life to be good but not great – I expect the same out of the Galaxy S21 Plus, but we’ll update this once we’ve spent more time with Samsung’s new phone.
Which one should you buy?
Both the Galaxy S21 Plus and iPhone 12 Pro offer excellent build quality, top processing power, and really capable cameras during day or night. However, while the iPhone 12 Pro’s camera system is very close to Apple’s top offering (the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s camera improvements are very subtle), the Galaxy S21 Plus’ camera system is a clear notch below the Galaxy S21 Ultra‘s. The latter has a far more powerful zoom camera and additional features like the ability to take macro shots.
This means those who choose the iPhone 12 Pro know they’re getting an experience that is close to the very best of Apple’s tech, but Galaxy S21 Plus buyers will have to deal with the fact their device is a fairly noticeable step down from Samsung’s apex offering.
As someone who’s tested all four iPhone 12s and all three Galaxy S21s extensively, I’d say this: if you decide to buy an iPhone, the iPhone 12 Pro is a better choice over the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But with Samsung, it’s flipped: the Galaxy S21 Ultra is worth the extra money over the Galaxy S21 Plus.
HONG KONG (Reuters) – “Social robots like me can take care of the sick or elderly,” Sophia says as she conducts a tour of her lab in Hong Kong. “I can help communicate, give therapy and provide social stimulation, even in difficult situations.”
Since being unveiled in 2016, Sophia – a humanoid robot – has gone viral. Now the company behind her has a new vision: to mass-produce robots by the end of the year.
Hanson Robotics, based in Hong Kong, said four models, including Sophia, would start rolling out of factories in the first half of 2021, just as researchers predict the pandemic will open new opportunities for the robotics industry.
“The world of COVID-19 is going to need more and more automation to keep people safe,” founder and chief executive David Hanson said, standing surrounded by robot heads in his lab.
Hanson believes robotic solutions to the pandemic are not limited to healthcare, but could assist customers in industries such as retail and airlines too.
“Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like,” he added. “That can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.”
Hanson said he aims to sell “thousands” of robots in 2021, both large and small, without providing a specific number.
Social robotics professor Johan Hoorn, whose research has included work with Sophia, said that although the technology is still in relative infancy, the pandemic could accelerate a relationship between humans and robots.
“I can infer the pandemic will actually help us get robots earlier in the market because people start to realise that there is no other way,” said Hoorn, of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Hanson Robotics is launching a robot this year called Grace, developed for the healthcare sector.
Products from other big players in the industry are helping fight the pandemic as well. SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper robot was deployed to detect people who weren’t wearing masks. In China, robotics company CloudMinds helped set up a robot-run field hospital during the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
The use of robots was on the rise before the pandemic. According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics, worldwide sales of professional-service robots had already jumped 32% to $11.2 billion between 2018 and 2019.
Some humans might be wary of putting robots in such sensitive roles. When asked whether people should fear robots, Sophia had an answer ready.
“Someone said ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself’,” the robot mused. “What did he know?”
Reporting By Michelle Hennessy; Editing by Karishma Singh and Gerry Doyle
Apple has added new health-oriented features to the Apple Watch in recent years, such as the ability to measure blood oxygen levels or take an ECG. Late last year, Tim Cook teased the future of the Apple Watch, saying that the device is still “in the early innings,” with Apple testing “mind blowing” capabilities in its labs. “Think about the amount of sensors in your car,” said Cook, adding “and arguably, your body is much more important than your car.”
That would be the holy grail of smart watch features.
Why would someone want to prick for blood when they can just buy an Apple Watch?
It would also be good for those with increased risk.
If Apple can pull this off it’s a game changer for the Apple Watch. It goes from being a nice accessory that has cool features to an essential health item for a great many people.
I hope this works, my wife it Type 1, and even the “medical grade” insertable/under skin sensors give wrong readings on a regular basis. Tho I don’t have a lot of hope that over-the-skin can possibly be more accurate or more reliable.
How about bring out ECG options to Australia first??
How about you take it up with the Australian health officials first. Not an Apple issue.
Last week, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlined his expectations for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models later this year, including the return of the MagSafe charging connector, the removal of the Touch Bar, a new flat-edged design, and the return of more ports built into the notebooks for expanded connectivity. A concept of a modern MacBook Pro with an SD card reader Kuo did not…
Samsung in January unveiled new flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones and alongside the new phones, introduced the $200 Galaxy Buds Pro, which are priced at $199 and offer Active Noise Cancellation. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. These new Galaxy Buds Pro are clearly designed to compete with Apple’s AirPods Pro, so we thought we’d compare the two sets of earbuds in our…
Apple is rumored to be working on a new version of the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Pro 2, and there could be some design changes in store.
Apple is working on a Tile-like Bluetooth tracking device that’s designed to be attached to items like keys and wallets for tracking purposes, letting you find them right in the Find My app.
Apple Augmented Reality Glasses are said to be coming in the next couple of years. Here’s what we know so far.
Apple just released iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4, and the update notes contain some worrying language (via TechCrunch). Under kernel updates, Apple notes that “a malicious application may be able to elevate privileges,” and under WebKit updates, it says “a remote attacker may be able to cause arbitrary code execution.” After both statements, the update notes say, “Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.”
What this means, broadly, is that you should update your iOS devices as soon as possible. To put the language into plain terms: Apple found a security hole in its operating systems, and it also has evidence that someone may have exploited it. The update notes don’t have any further details, so for now, we don’t know who may have used the security breach or what they may have been using it for.
However it was used, the security breaches aren’t minor ones. An application being able to elevate privileges means that it could do things it’s not supposed to be able to do. Again, there aren’t any details, but broadly speaking, it means a malicious app could’ve bypassed some of Apple’s security protections.
The WebKit exploit isn’t better. A remote attacker being able to cause arbitrary code execution means an attacker could do things on your phone just from you visiting a website they control.
This isn’t to say it’s time to go into total cyber-lockdown mode, but it does mean that 14.4 isn’t an update you want to put off for a while. In the meantime, Apple says it’ll provide additional details soon, so we’ll keep an eye out for more information about the exploits.