Future Macs and MacBooks may come with Apple-made ARM processors

Apple is looking at producing its own ARM processors for its notebooks Rather than relying on Intel CPUs for MacBooks. In the same self-reliant way it already makes in-house CPUs for the iPad and iPhone – it seems the company intends to produce all the chips for its devices.

ARM-powered Macs is something we’ve heard chatter about for a long time now, but Apple is getting serious about the move according to this new report in The Nikkei.

It quotes the usual industry sources saying that Apple is ‘interested’ in building its own ‘core processors’ for notebooks – as well as modem chips for iPhones, plus a single chip that takes care of multiple duties: touch, fingerprint and display driver functions.

Modem chips for Apple smartphones are one thing, but building an entirely new processor for MacBooks is another entirely, because macOS is based on x86 architecture – it would require a huge amount of work to switch the operating system over to play nice with ARM CPUs.

Opportunity knocks

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, though, the sources The Nikkei spoke with believe this is exactly what’s on the horizon.

One anonymous ‘chip industry executive’ commented: “Notebooks are becoming thinner, while consumers are demanding better mobility and longer battery life. That gives ARM’s architecture, which is known for its power efficiency, a very good opportunity.”

Although Intel, too, is driving hard for power efficiency and greater performance in its mobile processors these days – as evidenced by the recent announcement of Kaby Lake Refresh.

But of course this move would also bring about independence for Apple. Also being able to bind hardware and software more tightly together, would help extract the maximum performance and efficiency from the firm’s laptops.

If this is indeed a vision of the Mac’s future, Intel wouldn’t be the only supplier to get the cold shoulder from Apple. Back in the spring, Imagination Technology was told that its GPU tech would no longer be needed, because Apple will be working on its own independent graphics design down the line.

Still, as we mentioned at the outset of this story, this particular ARM-comes-to-Mac rumor has been rattling around the net for a long time now, so forgive us if we don’t get too excited about the specter of big change at this point.

Via iPhone Hacks

  • Will we ever see ARM-driven MacBooks on our best laptops list?

      

Google’s Pixelbook is probably not a Chromebook at all

On October 4, we expect Google to unveil all sorts of new devices, namely its Pixel 2 phone, but our interest has gone left field for the Pixelbook.

First leaked earlier this month in what appear to be official press renders, many have assumed the would-be Pixelbook is simply the firm’s next Chromebook designed in-house. But, upon a closer look – and, admittedly, some speculation – I’m wont to think this is something completely different.

The biggest tell that this new 2-in-1 laptop is a far cry from a Chromebook is its proposed name: ‘Pixelbook’. (Though, it should be noted that this device may very well be the previously-rumored ‘Chromebook Eve.’)

Knowing the past two Google laptops have been named ‘Chromebook Pixel,’ why now would the firm step away from the Chromebook moniker? Probably because it’s technically not a Chromebook to begin with.

Chromebooks don’t need that much storage

If you’ve been following along with Chromebooks since their inception more than six years ago, you know that tiny amounts of local storage is almost a hallmark of these devices. The vast majority of Chromebooks ship with no more than 32GB of flash storage space.

Google’s own previous Chromebook Pixel models have capped out at 64GB of space, which is already excessive for a laptop that accomplishes almost all of its functions through the Chrome browser.

What the Pixelbook may look like in full. Image Credit: Droid Life

So, why is it then that the so-called Pixelbook is believed to start with 128GB of storage, twice as much as the most capacious Chromebook Google has ever produced? Further to the point, the Pixelbook is expected to cap out at a whopping 512GB of space.

If this turns out to be true, Google is clearly accounting for something to gobble up plenty of local storage space regardless of the firm’s robust cloud computing platform, Google Drive.

Is this Google Fuchsia’s big debut?

We all know that Google has been toying around bringing Android apps to Chromebooks since before the turn of the year. In fact, the firm worked with Samsung and Asus to release Chromebooks this year specifically designed for this new feature, including the Samsung Chromebook Pro and Asus Chromebook Flip.

However, while both excellent laptops in their own right, that Android app support piece has been slow going and hasn’t seemed to drum up much excitement.

That said, we also know that Google has been working toward bringing Android and Chrome OS together for some time, most recently publicly discussing what’s known as ‘Fuchsia OS,’ based on a brand new operating system kernel that Google calls ‘Magenta’.

This supposed new OS, having already been leaked in screenshots, would unite the key features and functions of Android and Chrome OS, respectively, to deliver a touch-friendly interface that can adapt to the device at hand. You know, similar to a core conceit of Microsoft’s Windows 10.

Google’s work bringing Android app support to Chrome OS could be seen as baby steps towards the hopeful release of this hybrid OS. And, what better way to debut such an advancement than in a flagship device that can transition between laptop and tablet, just like we expect the Pixelbook to do?

The last time we might see a Chromebook from Google indeed

Pixelbook: the future of Google device software?

Now, bringing this all back to that crucial point of local storage, regardless of how strong your internet connection is and how snappy the tech giant’s server technology is, apps work best with the split-second speed of a local flash drive. And, apps require varying amounts of storage space to operate.

So, between reportedly dropping the Chromebook name and cramming gobs of local storage into this 2-in-1 computing device, I’m seriously wondering whether this new gadget will be considered a Chromebook at all. This could very well be the first step toward a serious retort from Google toward Microsoft’s own adaptable OS.

Pixelbook could be the beginning of the end for both Android and Chrome OS as we know them.

Lead Image Credit: Droid Life

      

How Facebook responded in the wake of Russia-linked election ads

Facebook has found itself playing a prominent role in the investigation into US 2016 presidential election meddling, a position it may not have expected to be in just a few years ago.

Last week, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch announced the social media giant would release 3,000 Russia-linked political ads to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, after previously refusing to do so due to cited privacy concerns.

This followed the revelation that at least 470 fake Pages and accounts were identified by Facebook to have spent approximately $100,000 on promoted ads from 2015 to 2016. According to The Washington Post, at least some of these accounts were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a so-called “troll farm,” operated out of Russia.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who previously called the notion that fake news on Facebook influenced the election a “pretty crazy idea,” released a video last week outlining “the steps [Facebook is] taking to protect election integrity.”

In this piece, we’ll lay out we know so far, what Facebook has promised to do in the future to ensure the integrity of elections around the world, and what questions we still don’t have the answers to.

Playing the system

On September 6, Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos revealed the company’s findings: 470 Pages and accounts that purchased $100,000-worth of ads were “affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.”

Stamos also noted that another $50,000-worth of ads were purchased by “accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian,” which “didn’t necessarily violate any policy or law” but raised red flags in hindsight.

The New York Times recently detailed how some fake accounts came to be, and the information – or, misinformation – they spread. One profiled account was for a Melvin Redick, ”of Harrisburg, Pa, a friendly-looking American with a backward baseball cap and a young daughter,” someone it seems doesn’t exist. This account, as with others like it, were used to spread divisive messages and start trending topics through promoted advertisements.

None of these ads received any scrutiny from Facebook

None of these ads received any scrutiny from Facebook. The company uses a self-service advertising interface that lets users promote posts without any employee oversight. Only major ad campaigns from companies receive human attention. “Individual” users working en masse avoid this problem.

“[T]here was nothing necessarily noteworthy at the time about a foreign actor running an ad involving a social issue,” said Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Policy and Communications at Facebook. International NGOs, for example, might run an ad addressing women’s rights or encouraging charity donations. Only after the election, Schrange claims, did Faceook notice some auto-approved ads might be “problematic.”

The “vast majority” of the ads, Stamos’ post stressed, “didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate.” Instead, the ads covered “topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights,” focusing on “divisive social and political messages.”

But the New York Times says that some ads did mention President Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by name, mostly “attacking” Clinton and “praising” Trump.

While Facebook has released the ads to Congress, it has refused to make the content of the ads public. Stretch says this is due to federal law, which “places strict limitations on the disclosure of account information.”

But Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly taking a “red-hot” interest in this scandal, as he investigates Russia’s election meddling and the Trump campaign’s alleged communication with Russian government agents during the election. This gives some idea as to the content and political bent of the ads.

Targeted ads

Stamos further revealed that a quarter of the ads were “geographically targeted.” Without further information, it’s impossible to know the US regions or communities where the ads were served. Election swing states like Michigan or Pennsylvania would be potential targets, but only if those posting them had inside information on which states, districts, or registered voters could be most susceptible to “divisive social messages.”

Adam Schiff, senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, expressed this same concern. “Left unanswered in what we received from Facebook…is whether there was any coordination between these social media trolls and the [Trump] campaign. We have to get to the bottom of that.” Now that Facebook has released its data to the Committees, Schiff and his colleagues will investigate for any evidence of collusion.

While the ads themselves remain a mystery, journalists have linked some right-wing Facebook events directly to Russian-created accounts.

The Daily Beast discovered that Russian operatives remotely organized an “anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally” in August 2016 in Idaho through a Page called “SecuredBorders.” Business Insider reported that Heart of Texas, a Russia-backed group with about 225,000 followers, sponsored an “anti-Hillary” rally three days before the election. And Politico revealed that Russian operatives have promoted pro-secessionist propaganda in Texas since 2015.

Future elections

What most experts agree on is that just about everyone, from tech companies to the United States intelligence community, was caught completely unaware by a foreign power’s ability to “manipulate and influence elections” through social media.

“The surprise was the integration into a whole campaign,” said former NSA director Richard Ledgett. “It’s the amplification of some stories and the suppression of other stories to bias you. That’s really hard to fight against.”

Ledgett believes it highly unlikely that social media companies like Facebook had the capacity to discover the plot, considering the US government couldn’t.

This makes it harder to track what kind of campaign messages advertisers are sending to voters

Facebook has also come under fire for its so-called dark ads, as The Verge reports. These ads are created without permanent links, and vanish once users scroll by them in their News Feeds. This makes it difficult to track what kind of campaign messages advertisers are sending to voters.

Yet if Facebook was taken by surprise once, it’s now attempting to ensure it doesn’t happen again during future elections.

Earlier this year, Facebook released a fact-check tool to allow users to check if an advertised post came from a reputable source ahead of the German elections, and joined forces with other tech companies like Google to cut down on fake news during the French election. The company reportedly deleted tens of thousands of fake accounts during the French election alone.

Chief Security Officer Stamos outlined other new policies the tech giant is implementing. Facebook uses machine learning to limit posts from low-quality web pages or links that disguise a post’s true destination through rerouting. It’s also using deprioritization to limit the exposure of posts with clickbait headlines or from Pages with news consistently marked as false.

Moving forward, Facebook plans to “make political advertising more transparent,” as detailed by Zuckerberg in a post. While TV ads are required by law to be publicly available and to source whoever footed the bill, internet ads have no such restrictions.

But Zuckerberg said that Facebook will “disclose which Page paid for an ad” and “make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”

Beyond providing 3,000 ads to Congress and the special committee, the CEO said Facebook will continue its own investigation “into foreign actors, including additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states.” This includes doubling Facebook’s election integrity team to 250 members.

While TV ads are required by law to be publicly available and to source whoever paid for them, internet ads have no such restrictions

Zuckerberg was somewhat less enthusiastic when discussing censoring posts and reducing automation. “We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don’t think our society should want us to,” he said. “Freedom means you don’t have to ask permission first, and that by default you can say what you want.”

So, his solution to reducing false ads may rely more on catching illegal content after the fact, rather than moderating material before publication.

Facebook will work with a number of organizations to bolster the democratic process and counter trolls and bots, from “election commissions around the world” to crowd-sourced security software ThreatExchange.

While Zuckerberg stressed that it isn’t “realistic” to think Facebook will “be able to stop all interference” in the future, he certainly emphasized that it won’t be blind to the problem any longer.

Of course, at the end of the day Facebook makes its money from ad revenue, and as The New York Times points out, tech companies are worried the government will use these revelations as a pretense to add more restrictions to anonymous online advertising.

Thus, Facebook is focused on self-regulation: conducting their own Russia investigation outside of Congress’, policing their own ads while preserving the anonymous ad program, and stressing that the ads weren’t as influential on the election as you might assume. We’ll have to wait and see if Congress and Mueller agree.

      

Best gaming laptop deals and offers at GITEX Shopper 2017

HP has a few gaming laptops on display this GITEX Shopper, and the first is the HP Omen 15CE002NE. Bundled with an NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card, it’s a decent choice for anyone looking for a gaming laptop that can pump out some decent performance while not breaking the bank.

Specs-wise you’re looking at an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB + 2TB of storage, and a Full HD screen.

Sharaf DG is selling the HP Omen 15CE002NE at AED 5,999 along with a backpack, MS Office, headset, and antivirus.

The second in HP’s lineup is the HP Pavilion Power 15CB002NE. If you’re on even tighter budget, then this laptop is a good starting point. You get an Intel i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, 128GB + 1TB of storage, and an NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card.

Sharaf DG has the HP Pavilion Power 15CB002NE on offer for AED 3,999.

MSI has a number of laptops on offer, and the first is the MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro. This laptop features an Intel i7 7700HQ processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB + 1TB storage, and a NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card.

MSI is selling the MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro at the reduced price of AED 5,699 – down from AED 6,499.

In addition to this, if you purchase a GE, GT, GS series laptop, you receive an MSI gaming headset, as well as other attractive bundles on certain laptop models.

The MSI GT73VR 7RE Titan is certainly a gaming beast, packing an Intel i7-7820HK processor, 32GB of RAM, 256GB + 1TB storage, and an NVIDIA GTX 1080 graphics card. It features a 17.3-inch UDH 4K IPS display for glorious 4K gaming, making it a sound investment for anyone who’s serious about gaming on the go.

MSI is offering the MSI GT73VR 7RE Titan at the reduced price of AED 12,799, down from AED 13,799.

If you’re looking for an entry level gaming laptop, then consider the Dell Inspiron 7567, equipped with an NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card. It’s priced at AED 4,799 dirhams and comes with an AED 500 gift voucher, backpack, Razer Kraken headset and a Razer Abyssus mouse.

Style and performance is the name of the game for the Alienware 15 gaming laptop. It’s available in a number of configurations, depending on your budget. The starting model packs an Intel i7-7700HQ processor along with 16GB of RAM, 128GB + 1TB storage, and an NVIDA GTX 1060 graphics card.

Dell is selling the Alienware 15 for AED 7,999 it comes with a great accessories bundle as well as a 500GB wireless hard disk drive.

Another great entry-level gaming laptop is the Lenovo Y520. This 15.6-inch gaming laptop has an Intel i5-7300HQ processor, 1TB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card.

Jacky’s Electronics is currently selling the Lenovo Y520 for AED 3,099 which makes it super-affordable.

The ASUS Strix GL702 gaming laptop is another choice for a mid-range gaming laptop. It features an Intel i7-7700HQ processor, 24GB of RAM, 256GB + 1TB of storage, and an NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card with Full HD screen. That’s more than enough power to play most modern games on medium settings, so this is one laptop you’ll want to have a look at.

Jacky’s Electronics is currently selling the ASUS Strix GL702 for AED 6,999, down from AED 7,499. It also bundles with a Canon printer, 1TB external hard drive, backpack, mouse, and headset.

      

Facebook’s new feature helps connect blood donors with recipients

Facebook is rolling out a new feature to help connect blood donors with blood recipients in India. Ahead of the National Blood Donor Day on October 1st, this new feature on Facebook places a special post on the home page. Depending on the requirements, Facebook requests blood of certain group and in the required locations, and based on donor profiles, it sends out notifications to qualifying donors.

Leveraging the power of social media

Leveraging its social connect for a good cause, Facebook is trying to make it easier for donors, recipients and organizations to achieve their respective goals. Taking note of the fact that there is a shortage of safe blood in the country, Facebook has teamed up with health industry experts and non-profit organizations to make sure that this new feature is safe for donors as well as recipients.

Facebook will start letting users sign up as blood donors starting from October 1st, on the National Blood Donor Day. Facebook will display a message in the news feed to encourage users to participate in this drive. The social network notes that all information in this regard will remain private and set to “Only me” by default. Users will be given the option to share their donor status on their timelines, which could lead to other users in the network to also sign up as donors.

Blood recipients and organizations can create a post when in need to blood, in which they can share their requirements, area, blood type etc. Once Facebook has this data, it will then compare it with qualifying blood donors based on the blood type, location, quantity etc. If a blood donor is okay with the request, they can respond through WhatsApp, a call or through Messenger. The blood donor’s information remains private even at this stage, helping privacy conscious users donate blood without worrying about divulging their information.

It’s worth noting that users have been trying to connect with each other for a variety of causes, blood donation being one of them. Several user-created pages are dedicated solely for this purpose on Facebook and even on Twitter, helping connect blood donors with recipients. With the kind of tools that Facebook has, this attempt to connect two parties for such an important aspect is a good move that can be a win-win for everyone involved.

      

Download of the day – ApowerEdit

ApowerEdit is a brilliant video editor. It’s packed with powerful tools to make your projects look and sound amazing, and it’s so easy to use, even beginners will pick it up in minutes.

A one-year subscription to ApowerEdit usually costs US$47.94 (AU$60.17 £35.33), but TechRadar readers can sign up free for a limited time using the special offer code A9AAF-4A273-RC2HL-754E0 (see instructions below).

This offer ends on Sunday 1 October, so download and register your copy now.

How to activate your free VIP subscription

To get your free VIP account, download and install ApowerEdit, then launch the program. Select an aspect ratio to start a new project and you’ll be prompted to log in. Select ‘Log in & sign up’, then click ‘Sign up’.

Enter your email address and a password, then click ‘Sign up’. Enter the six-digit verification code that’s sent to your email address (if you can’t find it, check your spam folder), then click ‘OK’.

Now click the account icon (shaped like a person) in the upper right of the window, click your account name and click ‘Activate’. Enter the activation code A9AAF-4A273-RC2HL-754E0, then click ‘Confirm’.

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around, plus special deals exclusively for TechRadar readers. If you have any recommendations, please send them to downloads@techradar.com.

      

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