Your modern car might be as vulnerable as the first iPhone

Over 10 years ago, the first iPhone burst on the scene and changed mobile computing forever. But it had a flaw: The baseband (the part that manages all the radios) on the installed Infineon chip could be exploited to run the phone on networks other than AT&T — which was, at the time, the exclusive provider. Fast-forward to 2017 and that same chip was recently found in various Nissan Leafs built between 2011 and 2015.

While such chips are typically used in multiple devices across different markets, the problem is that the Infineon chip with the same vulnerability was found in a modern car so many years later. But it’s not just one car with this issue; BMWs and Fords were found to have the same vulnerable silicon that would allow someone to remotely access and control memory. At Def Con recently, McAfee researchers Mickey Shkatov, Jesse Michael and Oleksandr Bazhaniuk warned that the chip could be used to send ransomware to the car. However, they decided that a good old-fashion Rick Roll would suffice for their presentation.

“We just randomly picked a car at the wrecking yard and happened to find this and our jaws kinda dropped,” said Michael.

The actual flaw was discovered in the telematics control units (TCU) of the vehicle supplied by Continental AG. It was a vendor-supplied component that housed the Infineon chip. That piece of hardware found its way into BMWs, Fords and Inifinitis (the luxury arm of Nissan), according to an ICS-CERT (Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team) advisory issued on July 27th this year.

Fortunately, Intel (which purchased Infineon back in 2011) and Nissan worked with the researchers to help identify and figure out a way to fix the issue for current owners. Also, Nissan, BMW and Ford have all delivered system updates to fix or disable the affected modems. But that doesn’t get at the larger issue of potentially vulnerable hardware permeating multiple, unrelated devices. While the iPhone was a huge target for hackers, other lesser-known devices with the same chipset just don’t register with people looking for vulnerabilities. At least not initially.

Car hacking has only recently become something automakers and their suppliers have to worry about. But even in a world where all devices are fair game to bad actors, even the most security-minded company will find it difficult to vet all the hardware that goes into a car that’s teaming with thousands of pieces of silicon.

It’s not only the automotive world that should be concerned. Hardware with known exploits could be in just about anything. Boats, security systems and infrastructure components could potentially have hardware that’s not up to snuff.

It’s not just vulnerable silicon that’s used over and over again. In 2014, researchers Lior Oppenheim and Shahar Tal found routers running old versions of software for embedded devices that let folks bypass the device’s security. The old version of the software had been used over and over again, even though the original vendor issued an update seven years earlier.

“The problem is that the notion of managing your supply chain when it comes to computer technology and software is not there,” Veracode founder and researcher Chris Wysopal told Engadget. Wysopal noted that when it comes to hardware and software, no one seems to be tracking down to the component level.

So who is responsible when something like this happens? In this case is it the automaker, the vendor or the chipmaker? To Wysopal, all parties involved are responsible, and if (for example) a chip is found with a vulnerability, it’s up to the company that built it to recall those pieces of silicon from resellers.

Plus, companies should be tracking updates to the components put into their products. It’s going to be costly, but it needs to happen or the next exploit might not be found by researchers, meaning one morning the owners of certain car models could wake up to a vehicle that’s locked them out unless they are willing to pay a ransom.

When that happens, no amount of PR spin or free fixes from the dealer is going to repair an automaker’s — or any company’s — image.

Wysopal said, “It’s a new world out there. We just need to build some new processes. We need standard industry processes for this solution so people can sort of rely on these things being able to get updated.”

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Apple iPad sales grow year-over-year for the first time since 2013

This time of year isn’t usually great for Apple’s hardware sales, but the company’s newly released Q3 earnings has at least one pleasant surprise. In addition to raking in $ 45.4 billion in revenue over the past three months, Apple also said it sold 41 million iPhones and 11.4 million iPads. That works out to tepid growth of 1.5 percent for iPhones over last year, but the iPads? We’re looking at a jump of nearly 15 percent since last August. This also marks the first time iPad sales have grown year-over-year since the halcyon days of 2013. (Yes, Apple’s fiscal Q1 2014 earnings showed a yearly lift in iPad sales, thanks to all the iPads sold during the 2013 holiday season.)

That iPhone sales basically stayed flat is little surprise — Tim Cook himself said last quarter that incessant reports about new models stymied sales, and we’re now about a month away from new iPhone announcements. Meanwhile, iPads — and the tablet market in general — have been looking anemic at best for a while now. This quarter’s notable lift is thanks to the launch of multiple new models this year, from a pair of new iPad Pros to a low-cost, $ 329 model meant to help new customers and upgraders with old ‘Pads experience what new versions of iOS can offer. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t mention whether this surge in tablet sales was mainly attributable to those beautiful new Pros or its rock-solid cheap tablet.

Mac sales, meanwhile, remained essentially flat with just about 4.3 million units sold. People clearly weren’t too thrilled about the refreshed machines Apple showed off at WWDC, but the big stuff hasn’t arrived yet. We’ll see what happens when that sleek new iMac Pro goes on sale later this year.

The seasonality of Apple’s fortunes is well understood — Q3 is generally pretty quiet as people gear up for the announcement of new products in September. (The financial party really kicks into high gear in Q1, when Apple the results of its typically-bonkers holiday sales period.) Since lulls like this are relatively easy to foresee, Apple has to be proud that its service revenue — the money it makes off things off iTunes and App Store purchases, Apple Music subs, iCloud and more — is also up. Altogether, those purchases add up to $ 7.26 billion, up 22 percent since this time last year. Apple CFO Luca Maestri specifically pointed to Apple Music and iCloud storage as two areas that saw notably strong growth.

And then there’s all those other products, like AirPods, Watches and more, that Apple handily lumps into a single category called “Other Products.” This time, the company reported $ 2.75 billion in revenue, which is up a whole lot from last year but not so much from last quarter. The year-over-year jump is to be expected since Apple’s surprisingly popular AirPods weren’t available until the winter of 2016; the very slight decline since last quarter could mean people aren’t buying AirPods quite as rapaciously as before, or that Apple is (still) having trouble producing in large enough quantities.

CEO Cook did, however, point out that Watch sales were up 50 percent year-over-year. Sadly, Apple is still more than happy to avoid breaking down revenue into slices for its wearables and accessories, so it’s hard to say for sure which products contributed most to this segment’s growth.

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Verizon’s first LTE-only handset is an LG flip phone

When Verizon finished rolling out its LTE network for calls, it became apparent that it also plans to drop its CDMA phone service altogether. Now, the carrier has begun offering its first LTE-only handset to subscribers, and it’s obviously an attempt to lure people who prefer basic feature phones over smartphones away from the legacy network. The LG Exalt LTE is a flip feature phone, and even though it looks much nicer and sturdier than its plasticky counterparts, it’s still far removed from the advanced devices we’re used to today.

Its specs underline that it’s definitely not something for those expecting everything an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S8 can offer. The Exalt has an unnamed 1.1 GHz Snapdragon processor, a 3-inch WQVGA screen, a 5-megapixel camera, text-to-speech function, up to six hours of battery life, 8GB of storage and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. For people who just want a phone that makes clear voice calls, though, it could be more than enough. Since its calls go through Verizon’s LTE network, it takes advantage of the carrier’s HD Voice feature that delivers high-resolution sound.

LG’s Exalt LTE is available from Verizon’s website right now for $ 7 a month for two years or $ 168 up front. If it successfully entices feature phone lovers into upgrading, then the carrier can finally dedicate its CDMA network to powering internet of things devices.

Source: LG

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First look at the new MacBook Pro (the one without the Touch Bar)

This is the new MacBook Pro. But it’s probably not the one you were hoping to read about. What I have here today is the new entry-level 13-inch model — the one without the multi-touch Touch Bar you’ve surely heard about by now. No, this is for all intents and purposes the Pro that replaces the MacBook Air. (The Air is still on sale — for now — but unless you have an inflexible budget, you should buy the new Pro instead.)

As a refresher, the new Pro weighs the same as the Air, at approximately three pounds, but has a noticeably smaller footprint. It also has the Retina display you always wished you had on the Air. There are some other differences too, including a much larger touchpad, a redesigned keyboard and a new selection of ports: just two Thunderbolt connections and a headphone jack. Oh, and it has a new price: The 13-inch Pro starts at $ 1,499, a bit more than you would have hoped to pay for a refreshed Air.

The laptop is shipping now and on display in Apple Stores, so there’s nothing stopping you from getting hands-on today. For my part, I received my test unit yesterday evening, which means I am in no way ready to publish a full review. But I am ready to give you a first look. Join me.

First impressions

Let’s start with the design: Holy moly, is this thing small. I noticed it right away, just because my normal work laptop is a MacBook Air, which means I’m used to something much larger than this. The difference is especially obvious if you stack one machine on top of the other. Though both have 13.3-inch screens, the new MacBook Pro has a much smaller footprint — it’s shorter and less wide. Truly, trimming down that humongous bezel from the Air makes a world of difference. Just ask Dell, whose compact, 2.6-pound XPS 13 paved the way for laptops that take up shockingly little space. Basically, if you can achieve a nearly bezel-less screen, you can then squeeze it into a much smaller chassis than you would otherwise.

The MacBook Pro also weighs about the same as the Air: 3.02 pounds versus 2.96. And that underscores another reason the Air should probably be given the axe. It was once a featherweight feat of engineering; now it’s heavier than competing Windows machines (the XPS 13 being just one example), and it weighs the same as Apple’s once-heavier Pro line. All that said, three pounds is still plenty portable, especially if you’ve bought MacBook Pros in the past and are used to toting around something heavier. For those of you who are upgrading, this will feel like an improvement.

At 14.9mm thick, the Pro is also 12 percent thinner than the Air, though that’s not quite as obvious, just because the Air has a wedge-shaped design that gets narrower at the end. Thinner is generally good, so long as the battery life doesn’t suffer. In this case, it also means thinner ports. (Though let’s face it, Apple likes to get rid of legacy ports, so it would have done that even on a thicker machine — and did, on the 15-inch Pro.) Where there used to be several full-sized USB connections and an HDMI socket you’ll now find two Thunderbolt 3 ports, along with a headphone jack. If you choose one of the higher-end MacBook Pros, you’ll get four Thunderbolt ports.

Either way, be prepared to un-learn some old habits. Gone is the MagSafe power adapter, though you can at least charge out of any Thunderbolt port now. You’ll also need a dongle for any accessories requiring a full-sized USB connection. Out of the box, you cannot charge your iPhone off this.

In many other ways, the MacBook Pro looks and feels similar to the previous generation. It’s made of unibody aluminum, available in silver and Space Gray. Though the 500-nit display is 67 percent brighter than the previous-gen Retina panel, with 67 percent higher contrast and 25 percent more colors, the resolution is the same, at 2,560 x 1,600 (a pixel density of 227 ppi). It’s lovely, especially with those tiny bezels and skinny metal frame around the screen. Particularly for those of you who have only ever owned the Air or an ancient MacBook Pro, you’re in for a treat.

The keyboard is both the same as before, and also not the same. As I said, this is the version of the MacBook Pro that does not have the OLED touchscreen stretching above the keyboard. That means the physical Escape key has lived to see another day — as have all the other Function keys, including brightness and volume controls.

So the keyboard looks the same. But then you touch it. Under the keycaps, Apple went with the same “butterfly” mechanism that it first introduced on the 12-inch MacBook. That means these buttons are shallower and less pillowy than on the last-gen MBPs, but still manage to be a lot springier than they look. I felt a little sour at first, giving up my old keyboard design (I don’t love change), but so far I’m typing away at this very story, and I’m not making many typos either.

As for the Force Touch trackpad, it’s 46 percent larger than before, making it nearly as big as Apple’s Magic Trackpad accessory. It’s more than enough space for the basics — stuff like scrolling and pinching to zoom. I’ll be curious, too, to see how it fares in more professional-grade use cases, like video and photo editing. More on that some other day.

All the stuff we’ll save for our review

There’s a reason I’m not calling this a review. There’s so much I haven’t had time to test! Apple says the battery life on both the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros can reach 10 hours. I’ll be sure to investigate that claim. Apple also stepped up to sixth-gen Intel Core processors across its lineup, with faster solid-state drives promising read speeds of up to 3.1 gigabytes per second. Oh, and I specifically didn’t mention the speakers earlier either. I’d like to listen to my very large, and very eclectic, Spotify collection before weighing in on the audio quality.

Given that the Pro has always been aimed at power users — and has a starting price to match — I don’t want to give the performance short shrift. And benchmarks are just the beginning too; real-world use matters as well. So give me a few days to live with this thing and I’ll be back soon with a full review. In the meantime, what’s the over/under on how long Apple waits before killing off the 13-inch Air?

Photos by Edgar Alvarez

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Square Enix’s first Apple Watch RPG is stylish yet dull

There aren’t enough dedicated apps for the Apple Watch, let alone role-playing games from established publishers like Square Enix. The name alone conjures images of classic RPGs: Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger and Valkyrie Profile to name a few. That’s why Cosmos Rings, the company’s first Apple Watch-exclusive RPG, feels like such a departure from the norm. It’s vivid, gorgeous and inspired, but unfortunately it falls victim to the very same cliches of so many mobile games that came before it.

At first glance, Cosmos Rings looks quite promising, with a narrative that’s par for the course when it comes to JRPGs. As the God of Time, you’re tasked with wandering an endless expanse called the Rift in a bid to restore time to the way you once knew it. After being moved to stop time to grant the wishes of human beings, you’ve got to repent for causing the Goddess of Time to shatter into pieces. Her crystallized remains were scattered throughout the Rift, and it’s up to you to make things right. Lost love? Check. Protagonist taking it upon himself to make things right? Double check. Now all it needs is an amnesiac to fill the rest of its RPG trope quota.

The Rift acts as the stage on which Cosmos Rings plays out. Get used to the way it looks, because you’re going to be seeing a whole lot of it. After you launch the iPhone app and open up the companion version on your Apple Watch, you’re met with a bit of expository story coupled with artwork that’s meant to move you along. These quickly introduce additional characters whose presence don’t immediately make sense in the context of the God of Time’s story, but you’ll soon realize it won’t matter much when the game basically plays itself, barring a few player-controller machinations.

That’s right — Cosmos Rings is essentially an incremental game that requires little or no input from you. The game is perfect for the diminutive Apple Watch screen, and its neon pixel art absolutely sings on the small display. But in the end, it’s little better than playing Tap My Katamari or Cookie Clicker with a few added mechanics.

The God of Time continues to run headlong into the Rift, fighting off enemies as they appear before him. This is your default screen among the three the game’s comprised of. The God will automatically attack on his own, but if you so desire you can tap the Skills button at the lower right of the screen to utilize various attacks you’ll earn along the way. If you wait for the timer to count down and then fire off a Skill right after the first one, you can chain them for additional damage. You can also rotate the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown to head to the Fragments screen, where you can spend Fragments (displayed on-screen as you collect them in battle) to upgrade your weapons, unlock additional skill slots and most importantly, earn more time.

You’ll want to keep a close eye on the time you’re allotted, especially if you don’t want to keep playing the same “days” over and over. There’s a timer at the bottom left of the screen that continually counts down. Essentially, that’s your HP gauge. Let it run out, and you’re forced to start the game from the beginning, though you’ll retain any Skills or Relics acquired in the process.

It’s more akin to a roguelike in this respect than an RPG, and is one of the most challenging elements of Cosmos Rings. If you make a mistake or forget to use Fragments to level up or augment your equipment, you can also use the digital crown of your Apple Watch in the Rift to rewind time to a specific “hour,” as the game is split into during each day, to go back and do it all again. These light strategic elements add a little variety, but the game is otherwise so hands-off you’ll wonder why you’re even interacting with it.

Bizarrely, time doesn’t cease counting down unless you’re fighting a boss, when the ticker hits 3 minutes, or during a story event where you’re given a slice of story. So if you’re planning on not playing for a long stretch of time you’ll need to make sure you do keep an eye on the game when you want to make progress. It’s almost like toting around a Tamagotchi or a Giga Pet, except you can’t let your “pet” die.

Cosmos Rings is a strange amalgam of clicker mechanics, colorful pixelated graphics and a score that you’ll want to listen to more than once, but it’s also lacking in the RPG department. When compared to its competition, a fantasy adventure called Runeblade from Everywear Games, Cosmos Rings seems feature-deficient. The former utilizes several of the same mechanics Cosmos Rings does (namely time travel), but offers an offline mode, various quests, and other reasons to keep you coming back. It’s hard to recommend Square Enix’s offering over Runeblade, especially since Runeblade is free.

If you’re looking for something to idly tap on while on the way to work or need to use your Apple Watch for a use beyond regular apps, it’s an interesting experiment. If you’re hoping for anything more than an endless grind with little input required from you, you might want to take your 3DS or Vita with you along for the ride instead. Cosmos Rings is available now as an Apple Watch exclusive.

Source: App Store

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Apple entices its first big drug company to ResearchKit

Although Apple’s ResearchKit is almost two years old, the platform has mainly been reserved for clinical studies hosted by universities and medical researchers. Hundreds of thousands of people are already contributing data for studies focusing on asthma, diabetes, breast cancer, autism, epilepsy and melanoma, but now drugmakers are getting in on the act. Almost a year after it said it was readying studies using Apple’s health data-collecting tool, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has confirmed the launch of a new research app to help monitor patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

GSK’s Patient Rheumatoid Arthritis Data from the Real World (PARADE) study is the first of its kind and is the first time a major pharmaceutical (or big pharma) company has embarked on such a project. PARADE is designed to look at the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on a patient’s life, by using iPhone sensors to collect information on joint pain, fatigue and overall mood. GSK will track the activity and “quality of life measures” for 300 patients over a three-month period.

GSK Rheumatoid Arthritis

Although GSK uses over 40 different technologies to collect health data, ResearchKit allows doctors, scientists and researchers to collect data more regularly and accurately from patients via their iPhone. It’s not testing a new treatment yet, but the company intends to use the data it collects to “develop medicines more effectively.”

Via: Bloomberg

Source: GSK

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MacOS Sierra first look: Siri, show me the new stuff

As of last week, OS X has a new name. It’s macOS now — macOS Sierra, specifically. The newest version of Apple’s desktop operating system arrives next month in the form of a public beta, with the final build coming out sometime in the fall. All signs point to this being a less exciting release than in years past, with the most exciting features being the addition of Siri (it’s about time!), auto-unlock and the ability to copy and paste between your Apple devices. (Other additions, like automatically backing up your desktop and Documents folder, are useful though hardly groundbreaking.)

With the public beta launch still a few weeks away, I’ve already had a chance to play around with an early version of the software. It was so early-stages, in fact, that some of the headline features weren’t ready for testing. Enjoy this first look, then, but let’s agree to regroup a few months from now — there’s still a lot of ground left for us to cover.

Siri

There are a few places where you can find Siri in macOS, and each feels intuitive. For starters, you’ll find the familiar purple Siri shortcut in the Dock, right next to Finder. That lower-left corner is the same place we already expect to find Cortana on Windows 10. If you like, though, Siri also lives in the tray, in the upper-right area of the screen, right next to where the search bar already lives. Or — and this is my personal favorite — you can use the keyboard shortcut Fn-spacebar to bring it up without using your cursor. Power users will notice that’s very similar to the shortcut you’d use to bring up Spotlight search, which is command-space. It makes sense that each has a keyboard command, and that they’re similar — if you know how to do one, you basically know how to do the other.

As you’d expect, Siri handles all the same commands that it does on iOS: searching the web, setting reminders, creating calendar events, composing emails and texts, etc., etc. You can also ask follow-up questions. Say, if I asked for dry cleaners in my neighborhood, I can then narrow my search to “only on 7th Avenue.” Really, I’d expect no less of a digital assistant these days. Given that this is macOS, Siri has also been optimized to control the operating system itself, giving users the ability to search for files, change their settings and find out more about their machine (how much local and iCloud storage you have left, for instance).

Once you find what you want, be it a specific file or a baseball game schedule, you can pin the results to the Notification Center, as well as copy and paste or drag-and-drop them into a different app. You can also open files straight from Siri, though in some cases you’ll need to follow a link to Finder to see the complete results.

Picture in Picture

Sierra brings with it a picture-in-picture mode, wherein you can pop out a movie in iTunes or Safari and watch in a separate stay-on-top window. (Look for a new icon in the video player that looks like a window popping out of a window.) Because I was testing an early version of the OS, most websites didn’t yet support this feature (an API is available to developers), but I was able to take an ESPN video and watch a recap of game seven of the NBA finals, all while opening and closing other apps and windows. If the window is getting in your way, you can drag it around as well as resize it. Media controls appear when you hover over it, though in my tests I couldn’t jump forward or back to a different point in the video. When the video ends, the pop-out window automatically closes — a convenient touch.

Universal Clipboard

For a long time now, Apple’s big focus with macOS has been around “Continuity” — the ability for apps to work seamlessly across the desktop and mobile devices, with carryover in things like documents and web activity. Now, users will also be able to copy and paste between their gadgets, whether that be macOS and iOS, Macs only, or from one iOS gadget to another. As in other instances of Continuity on the Mac, you don’t actually need to set anything up; just make sure all of the devices you plan to use are signed into the same iCloud account (which, let’s face it, they probably already are).

I was initially skeptical that it would be that easy. But in fact, once I set up Sierra on two different Macs, each signed into the same iCloud account, I was able to hit command-C (copy) on one machine and command-V (paste) into a TextEdit doc on the other. Basically, it seems that Sierra is remembering your most recent copy action across all of your devices. To paste that text in, you just need to make sure you’re pasting into an app that already supports copy-paste, which, duh: of course you are.

Messages

This fall Apple fans will have revamped messages apps for both macOS and iOS 10, with features that include enlarged emoji (three times bigger than before), inline previews of videos and websites and so-called Tapbacks, which let you respond to a message by adding a thumbs-up, heart or other pictorial reaction. The fact that your reaction appears on top of the message bubble means less clutter as you scroll through a message thread.

In addition, Messages on macOS can display some of the flashy new effects that are specific to iOS 10, including stickers, handwriting, “invisible ink” and “Digital Touch.” It’s a shame you can’t actually send messages from your Mac using these effects (they were some of the most fun things we saw at Apple’s WWDC keynote last week), but at least you can see what friends are sending you from their iPhones.

iCloud and Documents

Starting with Sierra, macOS behaves a lot more like Dropbox. If you like, you can have your Desktop and Documents folder automatically upload to iCloud, so that you don’t have to manually cherrypick which files you’d like to save. Once you enable this feature (it’s not turned on by default), you’ll find the Desktop and Documents in a slightly different location in Finder: under the iCloud banner in the left-hand pane.

Optimized Storage

“Optimized storage” aren’t the sexiest words ever uttered by Tim Cook during a keynote, but this is actually a feature everyone can benefit from. (Unlike Siri, maybe?) To call it a feature — a singular word — might be a misnomer; by enabling Optimized Storage, you’re actually turning on a host of processes that work in the background to free up space on your local disk. This includes automatically moving seldom-used files and already-watched iTunes movies and TV shows to the cloud and, if you like, storing Mail attachments on the server unless you choose to download them.

The system will also automatically erase items that have been in the trash 30 days and clear your cache and logs. In addition, it flags duplicate downloads in Safari and reminds you of used application installers. Certain nonessential features, like dictionaries, instructional videos and special fonts, are now available on-demand, instead of loaded on your system by default. Heck, even the OS itself takes up less space: Apple said it worked to make the installer smaller than in years past.

Photos

Here again, we have a new macOS feature that’s also a new iOS feature. The Photos app on both platforms is getting an upgrade, with a new “Memories” view that automatically detects events in your life, based on the people in them and where the shots were taken. Thanks to “advanced computer vision,” the new Photos is also smart enough to know which of your pics contain things like dogs or snow.

Scroll through the Memories view, and you’ll see a breakdown of people and places. Take note, though: To make the most of the facial-recognition feature, you’ll need to do some preliminary legwork, tagging faces in your photo library. To be fair, Apple makes this easy by automatically surfacing some frequently featured faces, prompting you to assign them a name. Oh, and the Memories view also includes a “Related Memories” section at the bottom, so that you have Memories to go with your Memories. It’s Memory-ception, basically. And also, a rabbit-hole of vacation photos.

As you navigate away from the Memories tab, you’ll also find dedicated People and Places albums. In the People album, your subjects are ranked by how often they appear in photos, though if you like, you can mark someone as a favorite so that they always appear up top. Additionally, Albums View looks different, with rounded tiles and photo and video counts. If you’re viewing one big photo on the screen, you’ll notice that the scrubber on the bottom looks a lot like the one on iOS (pick “Show Thumbnails” from the View menu to make the scrubber appear in the 1-up layout). Also note the search bar in the upper-right, from which you can search by places, people and keywords, like “beach.” And, of course, Siri can find your photos too.

Lastly, what would a Photos update be without new editing tools? New options include “Brilliance,” which applies region-specific adjustments to brighten dark areas, and “Markup” for adding text, shapes and signatures to images. You can also edit Live Photos, a feature that I’m sure some iPhone 6s owners have been demanding. Those edits apply to both the still photo and the video. Apple is opening Live Photos editing to third-party developers as well, in case you happen to prefer a different photo editor.

iTunes

iTunes generally still feels like a bloated mess, but Apple Music at least has received a major redesign. The new UI is much simpler, marked by large headers and prominent album art. In addition to your library and the iTunes store, you’ll find three other tabs toward the top to guide your experience: “For You,” “Browse” and “Radio.” Those last two are pretty self-explanatory, but it’s worth pointing out that “For You” is a mix of personalized playlists and recommendations, along with updates from whatever artists you might be following.

Tabs

Expect to see a lot more tabs across macOS. In addition to Safari and Finder, you can also open tabs in Maps, Mail, TextEdit and the whole iWork suite. The feature will automatically work in third-party document-based apps too, with no updates required from the developer. The only stipulation is that the app has to already support multiple windows, which is why you’re seeing tabs in Maps but not, say, Messages.

It’s all pretty simple, though you do still get some options in terms of how this works. For instance, you can choose to always open new windows in tabs, which is what I personally would do. Or, you could set your system up so that new windows only become tabs if you’re already working at full-screen.

Features we can’t test yet

Auto-unlock

Once Sierra and the newly announced watchOS 3 arrive in the fall, Mac users will be able to unlock their machine using an Apple Watch. It seems like the setup is straightforward: Make sure both devices are signed into iCloud with the same Apple ID, and enable Auto Unlock in your Mac’s system’s settings. From there, so long as you’re within three meters of your Mac, you can unlock your machine simply by lifting the lid or hitting a key.

Selfishly, I wish our IT department would support this feature on my company-issued Mac so that I don’t have to type in a complex 16-character password every time I come back from a coffee break. Fat chance that’ll ever happen, though.

Apple Pay on the web

Apple Pay has been steadily expanding to include more banks and more retailers, but until now, there was a glaring blind spot: payments on the web. That changes in the fall, when some merchants will start building in an Apple Pay button. A few things need to be in place in order for this to actually happen: The retailer of your choice needs to actually support Apple Pay on their website, of course. Also, you’ll need to visit the website in Safari, not some other browser. Lastly, you need an Apple Pay-equipped device, like an Apple Watch or newer iPhone or iPad.

That last bit is important because you’ll need a secondary device to actually complete the transaction. Even after you hit the Apple Pay button in Safari, you still have to either double-click the button on your Apple Watch or enter a passcode or use Touch ID on your iOS device. For Apple’s part, the company is quick to tout the security benefits — namely, that Apple doesn’t store your credit card number on your device or Apple’s servers, nor does it save the details of your transactions. For retailers, though, there’s surely another benefit, which is that getting customers checked out faster is always a good thing (the better to enable your impulse purchases, my dear!).

At launch, we’ll see Apple Pay on Etsy, Expedia, Fandango, JetBlue, Lululemon, Nike, StubHubm Target, Under Armour, United Airlines, Conde Nast and The Wall Street Journal‘s websites. Additionally, e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Demandware and IBM are working behind the scenes to enable Apple Pay for some 250,000-odd websites that are powered by their technology.

Compatibility

When Sierra comes out, it’ll be available on Macs up to 7 years old. In particular, it will run on MacBooks and iMacs from as far back as late 2009. If it’s any other kind of Mac — an Air, Pro, mini or Pro desktop — your machine needs to be from 2010 or later. Obviously too (I think this goes without saying?) to make the most out of the OS you’ll also need an iDevice. Think: an Apple Pay device for Apple Pay, a Touch ID-enabled device for auto-unlock, and an iOS 10 device to use Universal Clipboard, Memories or the new Messages on the go.

Come to think of it, to really evaluate Sierra, we’ll also need to take a look at iOS 10. Not coincidentally, both launch around the same time. Expect to hear a lot more from us then on all things Apple software.

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