iPhone muggers turn to phishing to access the device

If your phone was stolen or got lost somewhere, keep an eye out for any suspicious texts or emails: thieves and muggers could have a high-tech trick up their sleeves. A Brazilian woman who got robbed began receiving phishing attempts not long after the event. Her husband told Krebs on Security that he located the device using Find my iPhone and sent it text messages asking if he could buy it back. After that, he began receiving texts telling him that his iPhone had been found — all he needed to do was click on a link to retrieve it.

Further, the link leads to exact replicas of Apple’s and Find my iPhone’s log-in pages. The couple even got a call from a Siri-like robotic voice asking them to look for the text message for more info about their “recovered” phone. Clearly, it’s a well-thought-out scheme by tech-savvy muggers: rob people and then phish them to get their passwords.

The victim’s husband wanted to get the word out, since the scheme can definitely dupe anyone who’s not that familiar with phishing attempts. It’s also a good reminder to switch on Find My iPhone, so you can lock or erase it remotely if anything like this happens.

Source: Krebs on Security

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The Public Access Weekly: Everybody knows

This week, in lieu of an opening paragraph we have some warm and fuzzy GIFs:

And now, as promised last week, on to the Public Access stats from last month!

  • 455 posts went live on Public Access in October — That handily beats Septembers numbers (326) and is more than double August’s tally (217). It also sets a new record for the most Public Access posts ever for the sixth month running! Y’all are literally knocking it out of the park here.
  • 132 total Public Access members wrote and published stories, including 54 new members. Welcome to all those new members!
  • The Public Access member with the most posts published in October is Jagadeesh Dk with a total of 19 articles published. Second place is a tie between Lisa Rachel and Dimitar Najdenov who each published 17; Karthik Krishnan rounds up third with 15 posts published.

The top 10 most read Public Access posts for August (not counting the Public Access Weekly posts) were:

  1. Why Startups Are More Efficient at Product Development than Large Corporations by Karthik Krishnan
  2. Since 2012, The Netflix Library Has Been Cut in Half by Rob Toledo
  3. Where does Samsung go from here? by Matt Porter
  4. Teaching Computers to Understand Language by Karthik Krishnan
  5. Why Kindle 5 is Still My Favorite Gadget by Victor Iryniuk
  6. 3 Companies Using Technology to Disrupt the Music Industry by Brian Horvath
  7. Nokia says it can deliver internet 2,000 times faster than Verizon Fios by Chris Brantner
  8. Chinese company threatens to fire anyone who buys iPhone 7 by Andre Smith
  9. The Role of Social Media in Government by Jeff Klein
  10. Why Boeing will beat Elon Musk in the Race to Mars by Lindsey Patterson

That’s the good news. The bad news is I also had to remove roughly 45 articles, ban four members and change 6 members author status for violating our posted rules and guidelines. So if you are a Public Access member, go here to read the rules. Learn them, love them, live them because we are enforcing them.

Looking for something to read? Check out:

Joshua Thompson’s first article for Public Access examines the connection between Apple’s recently announced MacBook Touch Bar and ideas that were kicked around Microsoft’s applied sciences division years ago.

Another first-time poster, Oliver McAteer, ponders whether or not Amazon’s attempt to handle its problems with extremely shady reviews will prove to be a successful fix by highlighting services that claim to identify fake reviews, discussing the role that incentivized reviews play in the service and the steps the company has taken so far.

If you still haven’t changed your Yahoo password, reading Troy Lambert’s article on data breaches and corporate responsibility may motivate you to do so — Lambert discusses a few high profile 2016 cyber attacks, the resulting fall out for consumers and corporations alike and what consumers have a right to expect when it comes to their online data.

Looking for something to write about? Mull over:

This was obviously a big week in United States politics, with Mark Zuckerberg taking the time to chime in about the role Facebook may (or may not) have had on influencing the election. Do you think social media sites like Facebook played a role in this years political processes? If so, how? And, bonus question, is that a good thing or not?

Sean Buckley reviews the NES Classic Edition, making me nostalgic for the days when I would spend hours racing through Super Mario levels. Buckley says the throw-back console encompasses both the best and worst of retro gaming — his qualms largely center around unnecessarily short controller cables. If you’re a retro gaming fan, tell us what your favorite video game nostalgia trip is: Galaga? Double Dragon? Oregon Trail? Alternatively, weigh in on whether or not retro gaming love is ruining the industry.

Aaron Souppouris calls RunGunJumpGun a “damn-near perfect mobile game” with intelligent level design. What makes a ‘perfect’ mobile game? Which mobile game have you been really impressed by (or addicted to), and why?
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Michael Kors Access smartwatches’ value is face deep

Not gonna lie. I’m a giant smartwatch nerd, and an even bigger Michael Kors fan. So when I received the invitation to review the company’s new Android Wear timepieces, I was stoked. The Michael Kors Access range falls in line with partner company Fossil Group’s mission to smarten up its range of wristwatches across its brands such as Fossil (duh), Kate Spade, Emporio Armani, Diesel and Skagen. And that should only mean good things for the fashionable wearable industry. But, try as I might, I’m having a hard time staying excited about the new MK smartwatches.

Hardware

The Bradshaw and Dylan models that I received already exist as analog timepieces. In reworking them to accommodate the components that make a watch smart, Michael Kors had to make the cases bigger. The Bradshaw’s face went from 36mm to 44.5mm, while the Dylan is now 46mm (previous size unknown). Both watches are also less water resistant — dropping from being able to withstand pressure of up to 100 meters (330 feet) to just 10 meters (33 feet). Now, the timepieces can survive just rain and splashes instead of swimming and surfing.

Because of the additional components, the connected Bradshaw and Dylan are pretty heavy. The case alone (for both) weighs 51 grams (1.17 ounces). Even though that heft made me feel like I had an ankle bracelet latched onto my wrist, I still loved the style and quality of both wristbands. The straps are some of the most sturdy and premium that I’ve seen on a smartwatch so far, making them feel a lot more like real chronographs. And, perhaps thanks to careful craftsmanship, the fully stainless-steel Bradshaw and silicone Dylan succeed in looking classy and glamorous without crossing over into gaudy, as some wristwear is wont to do.

Inside the polished metal cases sit a Snapdragon 2100 CPU, 4GB of storage, a 360mAh battery and a variety of sensors, while a 1.5-inch face with a 320 x 290 resolution sits on top. Notably absent is a heart rate monitor on the underside that most Android wearables at this price sport.

Software

Until Android Wear 2.0 arrives, there is nothing really new to say about Google’s wearable platform, which powers many of the devices we’ve reviewed. Although it’s improved a lot in the two years since its debut, the OS is still somewhat limited in what it can do. The 2.0 update, which Michael Kors says the watches will get once Google release it publicly, brings improvements such as an onscreen keyboard, third-party complications and better iPhone support.

On the Bradshaw and Dylan, Android Wear is basically the same as it is on every other smartwatch, with the exception of the Michael Kors Access app and custom watch faces. The former lets you do two things: save your favorite watch faces and set up two looks (day and night) that will automatically change at a specific time of your choosing. Frankly, even though the auto changing of faces is nice, the whole app is incredibly basic, and I could just as easily do the same by pressing down on the home screen.

The handful of custom watch faces are slightly more interesting (and not to mention very pretty). You can tweak the Michael Kors ones by changing the background, dial and crystal colors. On some themes, you can add information to make the watch more useful at a glance. For instance, the Notes profile lets you display up to four time zone differences (as in, how many hours ahead or behind), your local time and temperature, as well as your steps progress.

In use

Here’s where the Access line really falls short. On paper, everything seems decent. It’s got most of the same specs as other Android Wear devices, save for the slightly smaller battery. But, that resulted in a much shorter runtime than its rivals; the Dylan went from 80 percent charged at 2:30 PM to just 35 percent by 8 PM after a few hours of heavy use. The Bradshaw lasted about the same. On average use without many notifications and interaction with the Dylan, though, it lasted slightly more than a day.

Worse than the disappointing battery life is the glitchy performance. Despite sporting capable processors, the Bradshaw and Dylan struggled to respond quickly to my commands. While the watch’s microphones accurately picked up my requests most of the time, it occasionally misheard what I was saying, even in a dead quiet room. Then, when it correctly spelled out my request to remind me of an upcoming task, the Dylan never alerted me at the appointed time. It’s as if I sent my reminder request into a black hole.

The Bradshaw was similarly finicky; I tried to enable brightness boost from the slide down shortcut panel, and was constantly redirected to the Settings page while the feature remained stubbornly off. Both watches were also sluggish to respond to my swipes, compared to the instant reactions I’m used to on competing Android watches. I had to swipe three or four times on average to dismiss a card.

I reported these issues to Michael Kors, who, after verifying that I had the latest software and build, sent me two other units to test out. The replacements worked better, were more responsive and didn’t exhibit the abovementioned brightness boost problem. It’s worth noting that they arrived with a software upgrade already installed, whereas I had to run that update on the devices I initially got. I still had trouble getting Ok Google to reliably set a reminder, though; sometimes the new Dylan buzzed at the appointed time, but more often it never alerted me.

But there are some problems that aren’t as easily fixed. The watches’ screens wash out when you’re not looking at them straight on. And as much as I loved the chunky style of the timepieces, Michael Kors needs to make them lighter. After an hour, my (admittedly very weak) arm began to ache, and the Dylan felt like it was literally dragging me down. I had to very unwillingly take the watch off to continue typing in peace.

The competition

Pictured above: Samsung’s Gear S3 Frontier and Classic.

Man, has Michael Kors got some serious competition. From its own partner company alone, the Access line has to contend with Fossil’s Q Founder. That wearable is similarly chunky, but has a sharper screen for a cheaper $ 275. On the other end of price spectrum sits the Tag Heuer Connected, which is stupendously well-built and still manages to be lightweight. But it also costs a ridiculous $ 1,500.

Then, there are offerings from more traditional tech companies, like the second-gen Huawei Watch, 2015 Moto 360 and LG Watch Urbane. These have crisp displays and modest style for about the same price as the Access, but also offer onboard heart rate monitors and more software features that make their wearables more functional. For example, the Moto 360 offers Live Dials, which let you access specific apps directly from the watch face without all the excessive swiping.

Look outside the Google ecosystem, and you’ll find even more contenders. If you own an iPhone, the Apple Watch is a no-brainer. It’s the most seamless option for iPhones, with better messaging integration and a ton of apps you can launch from your wrist. Its squarish face may be a little, well, square, so those who want a little more style should look elsewhere.

That somewhere else might be Apple’s biggest rival, Samsung, which just unveiled the Gear S3. The new wristwear features a rugged, country aesthetic that wouldn’t look out of place whether on a lumberjack or an investment banker. They’ve got rotating bezels that makes navigating the interface much easier, and run Samsung’s Tizen OS, which should offer about 10,000 apps and watchfaces than the mere 1,000 it did when the Gear S2 launched. That could give Android Wear a run for its money.

Speaking of wearable platforms that could topple Google, industry pioneer Pebble also has some solid options that are both attractive and functional. The Pebble Time Round is one of the slimmest smartwatches on the market and offers longer-lasting battery than Android Wear, Apple and Samsung devices for just $ 200. But it doesn’t have a touchscreen, and its display is nowhere near as vibrant as the rest.

Wrapup

In the end, the Michael Kors Access line is just another option in the Android Wear market. Michael Kors might sell plenty of Access watches based on the strength of its brand alone, but it doesn’t do much that’s different from its competitors. Don’t get me wrong: these watches are truly gorgeous, and, bugs aside, generally do what they promise. But there’s nothing here that sets it apart from being yet another smartwatch that married Android Wear with a fashion house’s good looks.

The thing is, it’s difficult to fault Michael Kors for the functionality of the Access line — it’s limited by what Google offers in Android Wear. That means it ultimately suffers the same plight as all the fashion and horological brands out there that are struggling to deliver a decent, good-looking smartwatch. At least Michael Kors had the good sense to not charge an arm and a leg for its pieces (*cough* Tag Heuer *cough*). Besides, having another designer get in on the growing market is an encouraging sign, and I can’t wait to see what (one of my favorites) Kate Spade delivers. In the meantime, I’ll keep saving up for a smartwatch worth splurging on.

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The Public Access Weekly: Spiders in space

Next week is going to be a big, big deal with an Apple event and a Sony event on Sept.7th which is going to make for a pretty brutal four-day work week around here. While we’re busy prepping for that, don’t miss all the #IFA2016 action from our editors on the ground.

This week, meanwhile, has been huge for Public Access. HUGE. Not only was August our very best month ever, with over 200 articles posted, but a Public Access story hit the front page of Reddit yesterday which… Yeah, is kind of a big deal.

There’s nothing I love more than seeing your stories published, shared, and commented on; watching a Public Access writer get some love from ye ol’ internets makes me so proud of all the work y’all do to make this page what it is. Everyone take Monday off to celebrate!

And now, onto stats for the month of August — our biggest month yet!

  • 210 posts went live on Public Access in August. Two. Hundred. Ten! That surpasses July’s post count of 174 and slays June’s 125 posts. It also makes the third month in a row that Public Access has beaten its own numbers which is truly awesome.
  • 82 total Public Access members wrote and published stories, including 35 new members. Welcome new members!
  • The Public Access member with the most posts published in August is a tie between Dianna Labrien (for the fourth month in a row!) and Ryan Kh who each posted 11 articles. They’re followed closely by Jimmy Rohampton with 9 posts, and Kevin Nouse and Pritom Das who are tied for third with 8 posts each.

The top 10 most read Public Access posts for August (not counting the Public Access Weekly posts) were:

  1. Ticwatch 2 vs Apple Watch by Jerry Li
  2. The Dark Web Comes to “Normal” People by Dianna Labrien
  3. Is Dubai trying to make the next Silicon Valley? by Pritom Das
  4. 5 Ways Tech Can Give Us Superpowers by Cormac Reynolds
  5. The Art of Avoiding Identity Theft and Scams At The Olympics by Dave Cox
  6. Ticwatch 2: The New Gold Standard by Jerry Li
  7. How Do Non-Pokemon Go Players Avoid the Mania? by Solomon Wiesen
  8. Taping Over Your Laptop Camera – Paranoia or a Smart Move? by Michael Harris
  9. TZUUM Joins Pokemon Go as the Next Augmented Reality App! by Pritom Das
  10. 3 Cooking Technologies That Will Change the Way You Cook by Hey I’m Joe, also known as the Sous Vide Wizard

Looking for something to read? Check out:

Samsung initiated a pretty significant recall of Galaxy Note 7 handsets after 35 reported cases of battery explosions. Although only a small number overall, the company is still taking the matter very seriously. Read on to find details on how to exchange your handset, and which retailers are offering full refunds.

Our own Chris Velasco got some hands-on time with Android 7.0 Nougat and found it sugary, chewy and satisfying. Wait. That’s not right…. He reported it was useful, elegant and fast enough to earn a score of 92. Android users are eagerly rubbing their hands together awaiting this one.

Are you looking to dive into a wormhole of details about Apple, taxes, and EU law? Then you are really going to enjoy this article about the tax deal Apple reportedly made with Ireland that has the EU calling foul — and calling for the company to repay the $ 14.5 billion tax break. Don’t miss the conversation happening below the story where commenters are weighing in with additional details.

Looking for something to write about? Mull over:

Apple’s next major event is happening Wednesday, September 7th with the rumor mill speculating about a disappearing headphone jack and camera upgrades. What do you think Apple will announce/release next week? The expected iPhone 7 sans headphone jack? A secret deal to develop a car with Tesla? Alien lifeforms? VR? Place your bets and share your conspiracy theories!

Our first look at the Asus Zenwatch 3 had commenters up in arms immediately debating the merits of having a round smartwatch vs a square one. Which shape of smartwatch makes the most sense? Which do you prefer and why? And would the shape of a smartwatch prevent you from buying it?

Along with a big event, Apple will be rolling out some new app policies starting September 7th – the company has stated it will start removing apps that crash on launch and contacting developers whose apps do not meet guidelines. With millions of apps available, this spring cleaning sounds like a good idea. In order to help them out, we’re asking you: What is the worst app you’ve ever used? Tell us why you downloaded it, what made it such a crappy experience and what (if anything) you found to take its place.
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The Public Access Weekly: Get schwifty

Howdy out there Public Access Weekly fans! Anyone out there catching that Perseid meteor shower? I’m going to make an attempt to escape from the perpetual San Francisco summer fog to try and catch a glimpse this weekend, fingers crossed. Other than that… I got nothing. It’s been a pretty average week around here so let’s just get started, shall we?

A big heads up/reminder for all you savvy commenters out there – if you flag your comment with “Correction Needed” for anything you notice factually wrong in an article, or “Technical Issue” for things that are breaking on the site, we will see it quicker and be able to fix it faster! Is this your job? Heck no. But look, we’re not perfect and we appreciate the help.

For all you Public Access contributors out there, keep an eye out for a new landing page to greet you on Monday. We’re working on a big, comprehensive guide that will feature a slew of tips and tricks on everything from linking and images to how to write like an Engadget editor, but in the meantime this landing page will be a quick reminder of the rules and guidelines for Public Access members. And if you have any questions about Public Access or contributing, now is the time to chime in!

Looking for something to read? Check out:

We’re doing a podcast again! After a two year hiatus, we’re bringing it back with a slew of new ways to listen (iTunes, Google Play Music, Pocket Casts, SoundCloud). You can even watch the magic happen, if you’re so inclined, by clicking the YouTube link in the story.

The rumors about the next iPhone are starting to come in, with Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman claiming the headphone jack is done-for while the body of the next handset will largely remain the same as the iPhone 6/6S. Don’t miss the discussion about the potential camera upgrades in the comments — some salient points are being made.

Facebook and Adblock Plus are fighting, with Facebook throwing down the gauntlet first by announcing plans to restrict software that removes advertising and Adblock Plus responding with a workaround. One thing is for sure: It ain’t over till it’s over, and with Facebook rolling out code that works around the workaround, this is far from over.

Looking for something to write about? Mull over:

First Evernote announced it was limiting the free version of its service, now Hulu is ditching its ad-supported free tier in favor of teaming up with Yahoo for a “Yahoo View” option. Folks were pretty quick to give up Evernote for other free services, but a lot of folks seem to feel differently about Hulu. The question to you is: How much technology do we deserve for free? What are you willing to pay for various streaming services and softwares? And what will be the result of companies increasingly trying to monetize their services?

Jessica Conditt wrote about the day-one patch for No Man’s Land, stating that the process of releasing a patch on a game’s release is “the new normal.” Commenters were quick to begin the debate on whether day-one patches were acceptable or just the result of lazy companies releasing incomplete products. Here’s you chance to join in: Are day-one patches A-OK or are they unacceptable, and why?

This week Buzzfeed published an extensive look at Twitter and how the social media company handles harassment and trolls (or rather, how it doesn’t…). While Twitter has denied many of the claims made within the article, the question here is: How do you handle harassment on Twitter? What about other social media sites? And what should Twitter’s actions be to protect its users while championing the free speech the site was founded upon?

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