News

Apple HomePod competes against Google Home

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Of all the announcements at Apple’s just-concluded WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference), the only truly new product is HomePod, which is a smart speaker similar to Google Home.

Like Google’s version, HomePod makes use of Apple’s voice assistant Siri to listen to your commands and play the music you request. A seven beam-forming tweeter array and Apple-designed woofer create a full sound that can easily cover an entire room.

At its heart is an Apple A8 chipset, which was first introduced on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Combined with the highly aware microphones, the HomePod makes Apple Music access — as well as all the possible Siri commands on iPhones — a cinch.

There’s just one problem: The HomePod costs $349. That’s more than double the price of Google Home, which has just as many features, if not more. It’ll also take a while before it begins shipping; the US, UK, and Australia are getting it first in December 2017. Available colors are white and gray.

SEE ALSO: Apple iWork is now free for anyone to download

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News

Apple fixes three critical vulnerabilities in iOS update

You should install the update immediately

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It’s a casual saying that iOS and macOS are among the most secure operating systems commercially available today. The idea is further exemplified by Apple’s simple yet restrictive approach that makes direct file-sharing or third-party installation difficult, or sometimes close to impossible.

However, this thought process could change soon. Apple researchers uncovered multiple vulnerabilities in the software powering iPhones and iPad. The company has released iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 to address three vulnerabilities that may have been actively exploited. Apple has provided very little detail on the vulnerabilities reported by anonymous research.

The first thing it addresses is in the kernel and affects the iPhone 6s and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation). A malicious application may be able to elevate privileges and access files it’s not ideally supposed to. Apple says that this vulnerability may have been utilized.

The other two loopholes are in the WebKit affecting the iPhone 6s and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation). According to the vulnerability description, a remote attacker may be able to cause arbitrary code execution. Safari uses the WebKit, and by exploiting a vulnerability there, attackers could then download malicious code.

Additionally, the update adds a new option under Settings to classify the type of third-party Bluetooth audio device in-use. The phone can correctly identify connected headphones and send relevant audio notifications.

What can you do to remain safe?

We recommend installing iOS 14.4 update as soon as it’s available on your device. While Apple hasn’t detailed how the vulnerability may have been leveraged, there is a slim chance that attackers are already using the technique to get deep access.

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Redmi 9T: Price and availability in the Philippines

Power on a budget

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Xiaomi is officially launching the Redmi 9T in the Philippines. This entry level smartphone that’s a POCO M3 dead-ringer promises to power you unlike any other in its price segment.

The display is 6.53 inches with a FHD+ resolution and Gorilla Glass 3. Xiaomi even put a thought on the user’s viewing experience, with the phone having a TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light certification. It also has a Widevine L1 certification for streaming Netflix episodes and movies in full HD and above.

On the performance front, Redmi 9T packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662. This chipset delivers capable performance without sipping too much energy thanks to its 11nm fabrication process. Backed by a large 6,000 mAh battery, users can last a day and a half without needing to charge.

But if users really need to charge, they can surely rely on the in-box 22.5W charger for quick top-ups. By default, the Redmi 9T comes with 18W fast charging support and reverse wired charging capabilities.

Xiaomi also touts the improved 48MP quad-camera setup on the Redmi 9T. The 48MP wide-angle primary camera is backed by an 8Mp ultra-wide-angle camera for better landscape and group shots. It also has a 2MP depth and 2Mp macro camera for better close-up shots and bokeh.

For videography, Xiaomi added a movie frame feature to give videos a more cinematic look and feel. The timelapse feature also improves on the Redmi 9T with support for custom speeds and duration. Combined with microSD expandable storage for up to 512GB, users shouldn’t run out of space even when taking lots of videos or downloading games.

Price and availability

Redmi 9T will be available in  4GB + 64GB atPhP 6,990. Meanwhile, the 6GB + 128GB version will be available at PhP 7,990.

Both of Redmi 9T’s versions will be on sale at the Xiaomi Philippines Flagship Store on on Lazada and Shopee on January 29, 2021. There will be a special offering of PhP500 off for the 4+64GB variant for 24 hours.

The new Redmi 9T will also be available with exclusive freebies at Authorized Mi Stores and resellers only during the official sale.

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Health

Google will spend $150 million to promote coronavirus vaccine education

Another commendable initiative

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Internet giant Google said it will provide US$ 150 million to educate the masses on the benefits of a Coronavirus vaccine. To help with mass vaccination efforts, starting in the US, it’ll make select facilities — such as buildings, parking lots, and open spaces — available to anyone eligible for the vaccine based on state and local guidelines.

While US$ 100 million will be advertisement grants to the CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization, and other non-profit institutions, US$ 50 million will be allocated for public health agencies offering vaccine-related content and information for the underprivileged.

The US is the worst-hit, has with more than 25 million Coronavirus cases recorded in the country. According to John Hopkins University data, the death toll currently stands at more than 4,17,000.

In the coming weeks, Coronavirus vaccination locations will be available in Google Search, and Maps, starting with Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, with more states and countries to come.

“Our efforts will focus heavily on equitable access to vaccines,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post. “Early data in the U.S. shows that disproportionately affected populations, especially people of color and those in rural communities, aren’t getting access to the vaccine at the same rates as other groups.”

Another initiative called “Get The Facts’’ for providing authoritative information about vaccines will be made available on Google and YouTube.

Google had committed to donating more than US$ 800 million to support businesses, organizations, and healthcare workers as part of its fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

It’s already working with Apple to make universal contact tracking easier for health authorities around the world. Similarly, Singapore also open-sourced its early contact tracing technology that was later leveraged by many other institutions.

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