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Apple is expanding its environmental programmes by increasing the number of old devices which can be taken apart by its recycling robots as well as opening a new lab to find new recycling methods.

The technology giant has said its robots, each known as Daisy, were now capable of taking apart 1.2 million devices a year as part of processes to recover materials for re-use.

The robots are now able to disassemble 15 different iPhone models at a rate of 200 an hour, Apple said, and 100 percent recycled tin was now a key component in the circuit boards of 11 different products.

Apple’s technology takes apart iPhones at a rate of 200 an hour (Apple/PA)

The announcements were made as the company published its latest environment report, where it confirmed 44 of its suppliers had committed to using 100 percent renewable energy for their Apple production.

The firm’s new Material Recovery Lab, to be opened in Austin, Texas, will look for “innovative solutions involving robotics and machine learning to improve on traditional methods like targeted disassembly, sorting and shredding”.

The company’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, Lisa Jackson, said: “Advanced recycling must become an important part of the electronics supply chain, and Apple is pioneering a new path to help push our industry forward.

“We work hard to design products that our customers can rely on for a long time. When it comes time to recycle them, we hope that the convenience and benefit of our programs will encourage everyone to bring in their old devices.”

Apple said it would also mark Earth Day on April 22 with a number of environmentally-themed Today at Apple sessions – seminar-style free events held inside Apple retail stores.

The post Apple’s recycling robots take 200 iPhones apart EVERY hour appeared first on Tech Digest.

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Google has said it will carry out “more thorough” checks on app developers before approving items to appear in its app store.

The technology giant, which runs the Android mobile operating system used by a number of smartphone makers, said developers which they had no previous record of would now be reviewed more stringently.

Android users are able to download new apps for their devices from the Google Play Store. However, the store has a checkered history of not spotting malicious apps being uploaded.

In a blog post detailing a range of updates being implemented based on feedback from developers, Android and Google Play vice president of product management Sameer Samat said:

“We will soon be taking more time (days, not weeks) to review apps by developers that don’t yet have a track record with us.

“This will allow us to do more thorough checks before approving apps to go live in the store and will help us make even fewer inaccurate decisions on developer accounts.”

The company said the crackdown was an attempt to root out “bad-faith” developers on the platform.

There have been multiple cases of malware found on the Play Store in recent years, often disguising itself as genuine apps in order to trick users into downloading them.

Google has always maintained the importance of having an open platform, accessible to anyone. However, critics have said this approach leaves it open to exploitation.

In contrast, Apple’s rival iOS platform, which powers the iPhone and iPad, is more rigorously controlled by Apple and is known for a strict approval process.

Brian Higgins, security specialist at Comparitech.com said: “I can understand why Google is moving in this direction.

“The length of time it takes to successfully launch an app on iOS and the due diligence applied by Apple in the process has always given it the upper hand in security when compared to the open source Google model.

“User maturity has, however, moved on considerably in recent years and consumers are far more likely to expect previously lacking levels of trust and security from the Apps their provider endorses.

“If this turns out to be a scalable protocol by Google, it can only be good news for their users across the globe.”

The post Google to introduce stricter checks on Android apps – at last appeared first on Tech Digest.

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Some Samsung Galaxy Fold phones appear to be breaking after just a couple of days. Journalists who received the phones for review before the public launch said the screen started flickering and turning black before completely fizzling out.

Two journalists said they had removed a thin, protective layer from the screens that they thought was supposed to come off, but was meant to stay, although reporters from The Verge and CNBC said they left the layer on and their screens still broke.

A CNBC video shows the left side of the inside screen intermittently flashing, and the right side unresponsive.

Samsung’s $2,000 folding phone is breaking for some users after two days https://t.co/RxckUZhmpH

— CNBC (@CNBC) April 18, 2019

The phone was “completely unusable” after two days, reporter Todd Haselton wrote.

The long-anticipated folding phone is about the size of a standard smartphone when folded, but can open up to the size of a small tablet. It is designed to work whether closed or open. When open, the single screen display is bisected by a crease.

Samsung promises the screen can withstand being opened and closed 200,000 times, or 100 times a day for five years.

The new Samsung Galaxy Fold (Martyn Landi/PA)

The Galaxy Fold goes on sale on April 26 in the US for 1,980 dollars (about £1,500), making it one of the most expensive phones anywhere — particularly if it is not as durable as promised.

Samsung acknowledged it had heard reports of the screens breaking and said it would “thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter”.

A company spokesman said it would make it clear that the top protective layer is necessary to prevent scratches.

The company had a disastrous rollout of a new phone in 2016 with the Galaxy Note 7, which Samsung eventually recalled because its batteries were catching fire.

The post Some £1500 Samsung Galaxy Fold phones are already breaking, journalists report appeared first on Tech Digest.

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The company behind the Assassin’s Creed video games has pledged 500,000 euros (£434,000) to help restore Notre Dame Cathedral.

French publisher Ubisoft featured a painstaking recreation of the landmark in its 2014 game Assassin’s Creed Unity, which is set in Paris during the French Revolution.

Now, after fire ripped through the 850-year-old building earlier this week, the company is vowing to help with its reconstruction.

In solidarity with everyone moved by Monday’s events we’re donating to the restoration of Notre-Dame & giving you the chance to play @AssassinsCreed Unity on Uplay for free.

Details below:

— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) April 17, 2019

Ubisoft said in a statement: “As the smoke clears on the events that unfolded on Monday at the Notre Dame de Paris, we stand in solidarity with our fellow Parisians and everyone around the world moved by the devastation the fire caused.

“Notre Dame is an integral part of Paris, a city to which we are deeply connected. Seeing the monument in peril like this affected us all.

“In light of Monday’s events, we will be donating €500k to help with the restoration and reconstruction of the cathedral. We encourage all of you who are interested to donate as well.”

Ubisoft dedicated 14 months of production time – a total of 5,000 hours of work – to recreating the cathedral for Unity.

Recreating the cathedral for Unity took 14 months of production (Ubisoft)

Game players are able to climb up the outside of the building and explore the intricate detail of the interior.

Such is the realism of the rendering there has been speculation the research and analysis could help with the upcoming restoration efforts, though a spokesperson for Ubisoft said the company was “not currently involved”.

“It is important to keep in mind that what we did for the game was not a scientific reconstruction but rather an artistic vision,” the spokesperson said.

“While we wanted to be very precise with details, there are some differences in terms of scale and with some elements. That being said, we would be more than happy to lend our expertise in any way that we can to help with these efforts.”

Ubisoft is not involved in restoration efforts but is ‘more than happy’ to help (Ubisoft)

Unity will be available for free to PC users for the next week in a move Ubisoft says will “give everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre Dame”.

“Video games can enable us to explore places in ways we never could have otherwise imagined,” Ubisoft said. “We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture.”

The post Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft pledges 500,000 Euros to Notre Dame restoration appeared first on Tech Digest.

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Facebook harvested the email contacts of more than 1.5 million new users who joined the site since 2016, without their consent.

The social network has said it “unintentionally uploaded” the email contacts after asking some users to email passwords when signing up to the site as a way of verifying their identity – a practice widely criticised by security experts.

According to a report by Business Insider, those who did enter their password then saw a pop-up message telling them their contacts were being imported to Facebook, without asking for permission to do so first.

The incident is the latest in a growing list of data privacy breaches to hit the social network.

Facebook said the flaw had been caused by a feature which had enabled users to confirm their account and import their email contacts at the same time; however, a redesign in 2016 had removed some of the language which explained this but was still uploading contacts in some cases.

“Earlier this month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time,” a spokeswoman said.

“When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account.

“We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we’re deleting them.

“We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported. People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings.”

Facebook’s acknowledgement of the issue comes after concerns were raised by security researchers earlier this month.

Security expert Bennett Cyphers, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said “for all intents and purposes, this is a phishing attack” and labelled the process “downright irresponsible”.

The post Facebook uploaded 1.5 million users’ email contacts without their consent appeared first on Tech Digest.

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Tighter controls on pornography websites are due to come into force from July, in a bid to prevent children from easily accessing adult content.

The long-awaited and controversial measures are said to be a world first, which will be overseen by a regulator, but concerns have been raised about how it will work.

Why is the Government introducing age verification to pornography websites?

The Government wants to make the UK one of the safest places to be online, in particular, protecting young people from stumbling upon pornographic websites.

Age Verification comes into force from the 15th July. This new approach is the first of its kind in the world, and puts in place the same protections that exist offline. Find out what this means for you https://t.co/kQazDP5Wny pic.twitter.com/N23QXYCOOt

— DCMS (@DCMS) April 17, 2019

How will the age verification measures work?

People trying to access pornography websites will have to prove that they are an adult before they are able to go any further.

Several options to verify that a user is 18 and over will be on offer by third party companies, such as using digital ID apps in which people can send copies of their ID showing they are of age.

Another option put forward is buying a card over the counter in a shop, where the shop owner will be required to verify the person’s age in the same way they do when selling alcohol and cigarettes.

A voluntary certification scheme, known as the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), will be available to assess the data security standards of the companies that provide these solutions.

Will this affect all pornography?

The Government is targeting websites and apps that offer pornography on a “commercial basis”, which includes any pornographic material made available free of charge where a person making it available “receives a payment, reward or other benefit in connection with making it available on the internet”.

However, the measures will only cover websites where more than a third of content is pornographic. Social media and search engines will be unaffected.

Pornography through search engines and social media will not be affected (Yui Mok/PA)

Who will regulate it?

The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification), the regulator responsible for classification of movies, has been tasked with overseeing regulation of pornography websites.

What powers will the regulator have?

The BBFC says it will have the power to contact social media and search engines to request that non-compliant websites be removed from their services, as well as asking payment providers to withdraw and even asking internet service providers to block their websites entirely.

However, it stresses that blocking a site is not the main objective, and will allow non-compliant websites “enough time” to comply.

Supporters say the move is needed to better protect children, but critics are concerned about user privacy (Peter Byrne/PA)

When will it come into force?

The measures are due to come into force from July 15 2019.

Will teenagers be able to find a way around the restrictions?

The BBFC admits that the changes are “not a silver bullet” and that “some determined teenagers will find ways to access pornography”.

In a recent survey, almost one in five parents (18%) said they expect children will be able to circumvent the restrictions, though the majority of parents (69%) indicated that they think the new measures will make a difference.

The post What do new age rules over online pornography mean? appeared first on Tech Digest.

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Age verification tools required on porn sites to prevent underage internet users seeing explicit content will be introduced in July.

The measures, the first of their kind anywhere in the world, will require porn sites by law to carry out “robust age-verification checks on users”, the government has said.

Websites that fail to implement the new rules – which will come into force on July 15 – face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK internet users.

The government said users will be able to verify their age in a number of ways, including using traditional forms of ID such as a credit card or passport, or by buying an over-the-counter card from shops where verification would take place face-to-face.

Digital minister Margot James said: “Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content.

Age Verification comes into force from the 15th July. This new approach is the first of its kind in the world, and puts in place the same protections that exist offline. Find out what this means for you https://t.co/kQazDP5Wny pic.twitter.com/N23QXYCOOt

— DCMS (@DCMS) April 17, 2019

“We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online and these new laws will help us achieve this.”

The government confirmed that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which classifies movies in the UK, will be the age verification regulator.

Its chief executive David Austin said: “The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a groundbreaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.

“On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol.”

The announcement follows the publication last week of the government’s white paper on Online Harms, which set out new responsibilities for technology companies to keep UK citizens safe online.

Carolyn Bunting, chief executive of online safety group Internet Matters, welcomed the introduction of the new tools.

“We are delighted to see the government tackling the issue of online pornography – as children seeing content they’re not emotionally ready for can be very damaging, especially if they don’t speak out about it,” she said.

#ageverification dangers are obvious, from outing people to ruining careers and even suicides.

What porn you watch can be very sensitive information. It’s striking that MPs don’t seem concerned, it’s not like public knowledge about watching porn has never impacted an MPs career.

— Jim Killock (@jimkillock) April 17, 2019

“While our research shows that parents overwhelmingly support age-verification and are confident it will make a difference, we must recognise that digital solutions aren’t the only answer and parents can’t become complacent about their child’s digital world.

“There is no substitute to having regular and honest conversations with your child about what they’re getting up to online, establishing an open dialogue about their digital life from a young age.”

Adds Andrew Glover, the Chair of the Internet Services Providers’ Association:

“ISPA supports the Government’s commitment to protecting child internet safety, and our members have long been at the forefront of online safety.

 “The new age verification measures are targeted at online pornography providers and are intended to prevent children from stumbling onto sites that contain commercial pornographic material. ISPs have an enforcement role in this policy to block websites that do not comply with these regulations and it is important to clarify that ISP blocking will only be used as a last resort. Our members are expecting high levels of compliance from online pornography providers, and it is the role of the regulator, the BBFC, to ensure that these sites remain committed to age verification. 

“Age verification represents a significant change to online content regulation. It is therefore important that this new policy is introduced sensibly and proportionately and that the public’s expectations are managed effectively. Our members will work collaboratively with the BBFC, providing constructive input to ensure that any challenges are swiftly addressed and the implementation of the regime is as effective as possible.”

However, campaigners have warned the tools could have consequences for user privacy.

Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group said on Twitter: “#ageverification dangers are obvious, from outing people to ruining careers and even suicides.

“What porn you watch can be very sensitive information. It’s striking that MPs don’t seem concerned, it’s not like public knowledge about watching porn has never impacted an MPs career.”

The government said alongside requirements for age-verification providers to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it had created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of those services which used to verify age.

The post Online age verification tools for porn sites come into force in July appeared first on Tech Digest.

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Microsoft has unveiled its first “disc-free” Xbox which will allow gamers to download, play and store games entirely digitally.

The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition will enable gamers to store digital versions of games in the cloud, as well as pre-order and pre-install upcoming games so they are ready to play as soon as they launch.

The console will go on sale on May 7, costing £200 – cheaper than a console with a disc drive.

Introducing the 1TB Xbox One S All-Digital Edition.

Go all-digital with disc-free gaming. Games, saves, and backups are safe in the cloud. Downloads of Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3, and Sea of Thieves included

Learn more: https://t.co/QXfUWuXYeq pic.twitter.com/ncf2WNDwGd

— Xbox (@Xbox) April 16, 2019

It will come with three games – Minecraft, Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 3 – pre-installed on it, as well as one terabyte of storage.

Xbox’s general manager of platform and devices marketing Jeff Gattis said the firm had seen a noticeable shift away from physical disc use.

“Consumer appetite for digital content and experiences are stronger today than ever before. Gaming and technology have changed quite a bit since the first Xbox debuted in 2001,” he said.

Let’s just call it a stroke of genius and leave it at that.

Introducing the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition: https://t.co/QXfUWuXYeq pic.twitter.com/PZ8p6isBa8

— Xbox (@Xbox) April 16, 2019

“During this time, we’ve seen a digital transformation across gaming, music, TV and movies. And, closer to home, the success of Xbox Game Pass, which gives members access to over 100 great games, is just another example of how consumers today have grown to expect great digital content.

“The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition was created for those who prefer to find and play their games digitally and are looking for the most affordable way to play Xbox games.”

Sony PS5 ‘to support backwards compatibility, 8K graphics and won’t be digital-only’

Xbox is currently also developing a video game streaming service. Called xCloud, the service will allow gamers to play console-quality Xbox games on any device – including smartphones.

The gaming giant is also reportedly working on the next generation flagship console, which could be announced as early as this June when the firm makes its annual appearance at the E3 video games convention in Los Angeles.

Sony has just announced its next major console, provisionally called PS5, will allow gamers to play old PS4 games and will not be digital-only. See full story here

The post Microsoft announces first ‘disc-free’ Xbox One S All-Digital Edition appeared first on Tech Digest.

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Apple and Qualcomm have agreed to settle all ongoing litigation between the two companies, ending a long-running legal battle between the tech giants.

The settlement brings to an end a two-year legal row over the cost of processors, with Apple having accused chip manufacturer Qualcomm of overcharging, something the firm denied.

The chip-maker had also taken legal action against Apple over claims it had violated patents held by the firm.

But in a surprise joint statement, the companies confirmed Apple had made a payment to Qualcomm as part of the settlement, while the two firms have also signed a six-year licence agreement and a deal that will see Qualcomm supply Apple with parts for several years.

“Qualcomm and Apple today announced an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide,” the joint statement said.

The agreement is likely to mean Qualcomm’s modem chips – which help connect mobile phones to a mobile network – will be used in new versions of Apple’s iPhone.

The phone maker had previously solely used Qualcomm chips in its phones, but in 2016 began using components from rival Intel in some iPhone models.

Industry experts said Apple is likely to need Qualcomm’s 5G-ready modem chips (Martyn Landi/PA)

It has been suggested that the upcoming rollout of 5G mobile network technology – the next generation mobile network expected to be at least twice as fast as the current generation 4G – may have been a key factor in the agreement.

Industry experts said Apple was likely to need Qualcomm’s new 5G-enabled modem chips – seen as among the market leaders in that technology – to successfully introduce a competitive iPhone that could support 5G.

Industry analyst Geoff Blaber, of CCS Insight, said the settlement was “a massive vindication of Qualcomm’s business model and a measure of the pressure on Apple to deliver a 5G iPhone in 2020”.

“Commercial pragmatism almost always wins sooner or later,” he said.

Following news of the deal between the two firms, Intel confirmed it was to exit the 5G smartphone modem business. In a statement, chief executive Bob Swan said “there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns” in the sector.

The post Apple and Qualcomm settle legal cases ahead of 5G roll out appeared first on Tech Digest.

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Sony’s next major console will allow gamers to play old PS4 games and will not be digital-only, a senior member of the company’s development team has revealed in an interview.

The long-awaited PS4 follow-up, unofficially called the PS5, will not be released in 2019, lead system architect Mark Cerny told Wired magazine.

Mr Cerny, who also worked on development of the PS4, said users can expect “dramatically different” 3D audio on the next-gen console, as well as support for 8K graphics with the help of ray-tracing technology, a complex lighting technique.

Despite popular belief to the contrary, the video game designer said the new console will still have a disc drive and is “based in part on the PS4’s architecture”, making backwards compatibility possible, a feature requested by many gamers who want to play their old titles on the newest hardware.

(Joe Giddens/PA)

The console has been in development for more than four years, he told the publication, and the company is already working with several studios on games, which will probably be available on both PS4 and PS5 initially.

Mr Cerny remained unclear about the possibility of cloud gaming, saying: “We are cloud-gaming pioneers, and our vision should become clear as we head towards launch.”

In terms of loading times, it also looks like users could gain from faster game play. Loading up the 2018 Spider-Man game on the PS4 Pro took around 15 seconds, while on the next-gen console it only took 0.8 seconds.

The PlayStation 4 has been a huge success for Sony, having sold more than 91.6 million consoles up to the end of last year.

The Japanese firm managed to sell a total of 5.6 million units during the 2018 festive season, while more than 50.7 million PS4 games were sold over the same period, taking the total number of game sales to 876 million globally since its last console launch in November 2013.

The post Sony PS5 ‘to support backwards compatibility, 8K graphics and won’t be digital-only’ appeared first on Tech Digest.

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