iPhone SE release date, news and features

iPhone SE release date, news and features

Apple’s new 4-inch iPhone SE is now on sale. Will you be splashing the cash on this palm friendly smartphone?

The iPhone SE is here, and we’ve got all the details you need to know about Apple’s new 4-inch iPhone.

It lines up alongside the 4.7-inch iPhone 6S and 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus, giving customers a trio of handset sizes to choose from – and three different price tiers as well.

None are particularly cheap, but at least there’s a more affordable option thanks to the iPhone SE.

It measures 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm, the same as the iPhone 5S, and tips the scales at 113g (3.99 ounces). The 3.5mm headphone jack, Lightning connector port and speaker are all housed on the bottom, while volume is up top and the circular volume keys and slide switch are on the left.

The camera lens on the rear is also flush with the body, rather than protruding out like on its bigger brothers. The iPhone SE is a little thicker than the 6S and 6S Plus, which means Apple has had a bit more space to play with when it comes to squeezing in the 12MP iSight snapper.

In terms of colors, you’ve got four to pick from for the iPhone SE: silver, gold, space grey and rose gold.

iPhone SE display

The iPhone SE has a 4-inch Retina display, making it perfect for one handed use. The resolution remains at 1136 x 640, which is the same as the iPhone 5S, with a pixel density of 326ppi.

There’s no 3D Touch however, which is only available on the 6S and 6S Plus.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE power

You’ll find an Apple A9 processor and M9 motion coprocessor inside the iPhone SE – those are the same chips you’ll find in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

It makes the iPhone SE 30% faster than the handset it’s replacing, so if you’re looking to jump from an old 4-inch iPhone to the new one, you’ll certainly notice the difference.

Apple never reveals how much RAM it handsets pack, but according to early Antutu benchmarks it looks like the iPhone SE has 2GB of RAM inside – putting it on par with the 6S and 6S Plus.

iPhone SE operating system

No surprises here, the iPhone SE runs iOS 9.3 – the latest operating system from Apple which it launched at the same time at the phone.

It’s not the most scintillating of software updates, but it does bring improvements to Notes, News, Music and Apple Health, plus the introduction of a new feature in Night Shift.

Night Shift automatically adjusts the screen temperature in the evening, making the display warmer which Apple says could help you sleep better if looking at your iPhone (or iPad) is the last thing you do before turning in.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE camera

Again, bringing the iPhone SE in line with Apple’s two current flagships, you’ll find the 12MP iSight camera on this new iPhone which includes the firm’s Live Photos, Focus Pixels, 4K video recording and true tone flash.

Meanwhile on the front there’s a 1.2MP snapper for your selfies and Facetime calls. That’s a slight disappointment consider the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus both sport 5MP front cameras.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE more specs

There’s NFC in the iPhone SE, allowing you to use Apple Pay for contactless payments, something the iPhone 5S cannot do.

iPhone SE release date

iPhone SE is now on sale. If you fancy getting Apple’s latest iPhone, check out our selection of the best iPhone SE deals.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE price

The iPhone SE starts at $399 (£359, AU$679) for the 16GB model, while the 64GB variant will set you back $499 (£439, AU$829). That makes it cheaper than the 6S and 6 handsets Apple will continue to sell.

Here’s why Cortana leaves Siri and Google Now in the dust

Here's why Cortana leaves Siri and Google Now in the dust

It isn’t often that Microsoft is the company that beats Apple and Google to the punch, especially when it comes to something as cool and sophisticated as virtual assistants but, with Cortana, Redmond has done just that.

The presentation that Microsoft gave at Build 2016, the company’s annual conference in which it explains where it’s at and what it’s doing, focused on ‘bots’, artificial intelligence, and improving services like Cortana.

Cortana means business

Siri, the virtual assistant that Apple launched alongside the iPhone 4S, and Google Now, the assistant embedded in most new Android phones, are rapidly being outpaced by Microsoft’s assistant, which is available on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. This may not seem like a radical difference, but it does mean that Cortana is well-placed to dominate in an area that Microsoft thrives in – the enterprise.

Embedding Cortana into the mindset of businesses is important and, thanks to the rapid uptake of Windows 10, possible. Every Windows 10 PC has the little box in the bottom left that, when pressed, brings up Cortana, ready to answer any queries, help with any tasks, or respond to inane prodding. Apple and Google do not have this advantage as the assistants are not available on OS X or Chrome OS, the company’s respective PC operating systems.

This isn’t the first time in recent memory that Microsoft has outmanoeuvred its competitors. Windows 10, the newest version of the operating system that went on sale last summer, runs across smartphones, tablets, PCs, Xbox, and Internet of Things devices seamlessly, ushering in a new era of universal apps and the Universal Windows Platform.

This platform is what enables Cortana and will, in the future, allow Microsoft to make sweeping advances with its software that can then be rolled out across any number of devices across all hardware ranges. Cortana is simultaneously available on a Microsoft smartphone, a Lenovo tablet, and a Dell PC, and, thanks to Windows 10, she works just the same on all of them.

Skype video bots are coming to take over your life

Bot building

Build also saw Microsoft adopting a different kind of technology: bots. Essentially, bots are little pieces of software that ‘attach’ onto other software and offer services automatically. For example, a bot enabled in Skype can translate a chat in real-time while a bot in Edge, the browser in Windows 10, can automatically order a pizza from Domino’s.

Microsoft is describing this as ‘Conversation as a Platform’ and spent a lot of time on stage explaining why it is so important for the future of the company, especially since it failed to get in on mobile quick enough to have a meaningful market share now.

As Apple questions FBI’s hacking methods, list of unlock cases grow

As Apple questions FBI's hacking methods, list of unlock cases grow

Just a few days after the FBI revealed that it had found a way to unlock the iPhone at the center of the San Bernardino shooting case without Apple’s help – thus vacating the court order that caused most of Silicon Valley to side with Apple – it has agreed to help unlock another iPhone and iPod in a different case.

The FBI agreed on Wednesday afternoon to a request from the prosecuting attorney in an Arkansas homicide case to help assist in unlocking the two Apple devices belonging to the accused, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities did not revealed whether the iPhone in the Arkansas case are the same model as the San Bernardino iPhone, or whether the FBI will use the same method to try to get into the devices.

Still, the news that the FBI is assisting in unlocking iPhones for a different case comes at an interesting time for Apple.

Apple’s attorneys have begun to research how it can legally compel the FBI to reveal theunlocking method it has found, according to the LA Times, presumably so that it can plug the vulnerability being exploited by the method and thus protecting phones from this method in the future.

It’s unlikely Apple will be able to find a legal way to push the FBI to reveal its secret, according to Reuters. And if it does, the FBI will more than likely fight Apple in the courts over it.

The FBI had originally said that if Apple complied with the San Bernardino court order by developing a method (a backdoor, as Apple claimed) that would allow authorities to access the iPhone, it “is about one specific case” and would not be used again. Obviously, as it didn’t receive Apple’s help, this may no longer apply.

After all, there are a number of cases around the U.S. that involves unlocking a phone that the FBI might now be able to assist in without needing a court order demanding Apple’s help.

To give you an idea of such cases, the American Civil Liberties Union helpfully mapped all the cases that involved the government applying for a court order using the 1789 All Writs Act (the same one used for the court order involving the San Bernardino iPhone) to compel Apple or Google to provide assistance in accessing data stored on a mobile device.

There were 63 cases in total to date since 2008.

Why are people waiting in line to reserve a Tesla Model 3?

Why are people waiting in line to reserve a Tesla Model 3?

Tesla is unveiling the Model 3 later tonight, but without knowing what the car will look like, its options or official driving range, thousands have lined up to reserve one across the globe. While online reservations won’t open up until the 7:30pm PDT tonight, anyone can walk into a Tesla Store and plop down $1,000 (£1000) to reserve a car.

Think about that for a sec — buyers are ready to hand over $1,000 to Tesla Motors for a car with an expected base price of $35,000 (£30,000) that they know very little about, except it’s anticipated to have 200 miles of pure electric range. Even with the latest Apple device releases, people wait in line in hopes to buy a device that was already announced.

Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 reservation consists of putting down a $1,000 deposit for a promise of an affordable 200-mile range electric vehicle (EV) that starts production in late 2017. Of course, the fee is completely refundable, or can be applied towards a Model S or X at any point in time. But it still seemed crazy to me, at first.

I spoke to a handful of people who were planning on reserving a Model 3 to figure out why they have so much faith and trust in Tesla, ranging from existing EV, Tesla owners to first-time buyers.

The Tesla effect

Buyers trust Tesla to produce a car that will deliver on its promises, sight unseen. The same wouldn’t happen for any other brand.

“Their commitment to EVs is unparalleled, their customer support is beyond acceptable,” said Ryan Wallace, a Nissan Leaf owner passionate about EVs. “Tesla puts their money where their mouth is with the Supercharger network and is always trying out new features, like battery swapping.”

Tesla’s Supercharger network currently consists of 613 stations with 3,628 total chargers across North America, while CHAdeMO, a quick charge connector used by the Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul and Mitsubishi i-Miev, only has 1,530 chargers, as of January of this year.

Tesla Supercharger network

But CHAdeMO is only one of the quick charging standards used by mainstream EVs, there’s also the SAE Combo plug that’s used by Volkswagen (VW), BMW, Ford, General Motors and the cost of public charging.

Nissan provides free charging through select networks with its No Charge to Charge program for new Leaf buyers, but its only for the first two years. The cost varies by charging station afterwards, but not every charging station is free – only select networks that opt-in – whereas the Tesla Superchargers are free for the lifetime of the vehicle.

Should I reserve a Tesla Model 3?

I started the day thinking it was crazy to wait in line and give Tesla money for a car that you might not see for at least 2 years. After speaking with these potential Tesla Model 3 buyers, it didn’t seem as crazy to reserve a Tesla Model 3 anymore. You’re putting down a deposit that’s completely refundable at any given time, so if you change your mind, it’s still your money.

Half-way through the day, my mind changed and I contemplated reserving one myself. I bought my wife a 2015 Nissan Leaf towards the end of 2014 and it’s been a great car. However, it lacks driver assist technologies, the infotainment system is terrible, the 84 miles of rated range is limiting for longer trips and NissanConnect EV telematics service is still unavailable from the phone app.

By the time the Model 3 would arrive, if I reserved one, the Leaf will be paid off, so I wouldn’t have to worry about trade-in value and can sell it outright. Tesla has managed to provide software updates to the Model S that fix and improve features in a timely manner, while I have to schedule an appointment and spend time at a Nissan dealership for a recall on the Leaf that requires a software update.

Tesla Model S

The Chevy Bolt is also coming later this year with 200 miles of range and a starting price of around $37,000, but the first car I bought out of college was a 2008 HHR SS and the dealership experience soured my trust for the company. Hyundai has the Ioniq EV coming, but 110 miles of electric range isn’t worth the added costs to me.

So I started the day thinking it was crazy to reserve a car to mulling it over, but I’m very impatient and I don’t really want to wait two years for a car. Whether or not I get one may come down to how easy it is to accidentally fill in all of my financial information on Tesla’s pre-order page. Oops.

Intel’s blisteringly fast Optane SSD tech will be compatible with MacBooks

3D Xpoint memory chips.

Intel’s been quiet about its super-fast Optane memory and SSD products, but a few emerging details may hint at how they could be used in products like Apple’s MacBooks.

Optane is a brand name for a new type of memory and SSD based on 3D Xpoint, a technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron that can be 10 times denser than DRAM, and 1,000 times faster and more durable than flash storage.

The soon-to-be-released 3D Xpoint technology will be compatible with NVMe, a super-fast storage protocol that could help Optane achieve its blistering speeds. Some MacBooks already have NVMe-based SSDs, and Optane could provide a further speed boost.

Apple is among the first vendors to implement the latest laptop technologies and may jump at the chance at putting Optane in its MacBooks. Apple was the first to implement Thunderbolt and processor technologies from Intel.

The first Optane products will likely be SSDs and reach enthusiasts’ PCs next year, then spread to other desktops and mobile products. Optane memory DIMMs, which can be plugged into existing memory slots, are also coming.

Some Windows laptops also have NVMe storage, but most still rely on the older and slower SATA interface. Enthusiast desktop users like gamers are early adopters of new technology, and many will likely move over to Optane.

Optane products will be initially based on Intel’s Skylake architecture. If Intel ships memory DIMMs, they will need to be compatible with the DDR3/4 DRAM bus that is in most PCs today.

Optane’s compatibility with NVMe was revealed during a session focused on Lightning, an open-source storage design, at the OCP U.S. Summit in San Jose, California. Lightning, developed by Intel and Facebook, provides flexible storage in which capacity can be cranked up depending on processing needs.

Optane could drive changes in server designs and in application processing. Servers could have more capacity for in-memory applications like SAP HANA or 3D Xpoint memory, and SSDs could be decoupled into separate boxes.

Separating storage, memory and processing resources could help reduce data center costs. Intel has a data-center architecture called Rack Scale that focuses on decoupling those resources.

With 3D Xpoint technology, memory cells sit in a three-dimensional mesh. The structure allows data to be written in small sizes and at much faster speeds.

Samsung’s Flow bridges the gap between Android handsets and Windows devices

Galaxy TabPro S starts at $899.

Like Apple, Samsung is trying to link its devices so they work better together. A new effort bridges the gap between the company’s Android handsets and Windows devices.

A new feature called Flow in Samsung’s new Galaxy TabPro S helps the Windows 10 tablet work smoothly with Galaxy smartphones running Android. The super-thin tablet started shipping in the U.S. on Thursday, with a starting price of $899.

Until now, Samsung’s Windows PCs and Android devices didn’t work hand-in-hand. Flow provides some interesting hints on Samsung’s plan to link Windows and Android devices.

Flow will allow Android smartphone users to use their devices to log in to Windows PCs. Users can swipe a finger on a smartphone’s fingerprint reader, logging a user into the TabPro S, which doesn’t have a fingerprint reader. Similarly, users can log in to the TabPro S by pattern authentication — by drawing specific shapes — on smartphones. Those actions require a Flow application on a smartphone, which passes on authentication information to the TabPro S through NFC protocols.

Flow will also allow notifications of phone calls and text messages on Galaxy smartphones to also appear on the TabPro S. This was not possible on earlier Samsung PCs. It’s a feature drawn from Samsung’s Gear smartwatches, which can show smartphone notifications.

Flow also links the TabPro S to a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot on a Galaxy smartphone.

The TabPro S screen can be mirrored on Samsung TVs. Samsung’s smartphones already work well with the company’s TVs.

Samsung is working hard to ensure its devices talk to each other. The company is building smart appliances like refrigerators and washing machines that could be controlled through smartphones.

But trying to make Windows work with Android creates a whole new set of challenges due to differences in codes and protocols.

There are many possibilities with Flow, but Samsung hasn’t determined what additional features will be built into it, a company spokeswoman said at a press event in New York City.

The Galaxy lineup is dominated by Android smartphones and tablets, and the TabPro S is the company’s first Galaxy Windows tablet. The $899 entry-level price is the same as Microsoft’s base Surface Pro 4 model, which has a similar configuration, with an Intel Core M3 chip and 128GB of storage.

The tablet is is 6.35 millimeters thick and weighs 680 grams. A highlight of the tablet is a Super AMOLED display that shows pictures at a resolution of 2160 x 1440 pixels. OLED screens are more vibrant than conventional LCD/LED screens and also more power efficient because they don’t include backlighting.

Will Apple ever release a Mac hybrid?

9.7-inch iPad Pro

Apple now claims two “ultimate” Windows PC replacements, iPad Pro tablets and MacBooks, but the company should look to bridge the gap between those two hardware lines, some analysts say.

As device usage and applications evolve, it will be harder for Apple to distinguish between the iPad Pro and products like the MacBook Air, analysts say.

Apple has aimed the iPad Pro line at users interested in Web browsing and productivity applications and MacBooks at power users. But as more applications are likely to use touchscreens, Apple may need to develop products that merge features like touch with advanced computing capabilities.

That sort of transition would mirror developments already happening on Windows PCs, where tablets and laptops are merging into hybrid devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.

Apple’s iPads feature iOS and screen sizes under 12.9 inches and are targeted at users comfortable with mobile computing. Apple has pitched its new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, announced this week, as a tablet that can function as a laptop when needed, but it lacks features such as an SD card slot, USB port, and display ports that make it a true PC replacement.

MacBooks have screen sizes starting at 11 inches and run Mac OS X, an operating system aimed at users needing a more full-featured computer.

The merging of features from these products, in theory, could result in a product like a MacBook Air with a touchscreen and more port options than an iPad Pro. Those features could make Apple a closer competitor to Microsoft and its Surface, which can serve both mobile and power users. But any change in Apple’s products won’t come for years, analysts said.

Apple risks confusing customers if it positions two products as PC replacements, said Bob O’Donnell, principal analyst at Technalysis Research.

For now, Apple isn’t yet ready to pit MacBooks against iPads, but over time may need to bring iPad Pro features to MacBooks, or vice versa, to meet the computing needs of customers, O’Donnell said.

“Apple clearly believes that Mac OS, Mac apps and MacBooks should be touch-free, while touch-based apps belong on iPads and iOS,” he added. “Over time, this seems to be more arbitrary and not well-suited to current demands.”

With the iPad Pro and MacBook Air, Apple is trying to reach the broadest number of users and applications, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“Apple’s difficulty is in managing two completely different hardware and software platforms,” McGregor said. “If I was to bet on the future, I would bet on an Apple hardware-based platform with a single OS within the next few years.”

But there’s a challenge in merging the two operating systems, said Kevin Krewell, McGregor’s colleague at Tirias Research.

Keeping the two OSes separated allows Apple to manage complexity in a way that Microsoft cannot when trying to merge three operating systems, for PCs, smartphones and the Xbox, into one core Windows 10 OS, Krewell said.

There are additional hardware challenges. Apple’s devices with iOS run on homegrown ARM-based chips, and Macs run on Intel chips. To merge OSes, Apple may have to move its Mac OS over to ARM-based chips, which is no small task because the company is already pushing performance boundaries with its own chips.

“Apple had significant help from Intel in porting to the x86 architecture,” McGregor said. “However, it is in Apple’s interest to keep pursuing its own [chips] and to use them as widely as possible.”

Apple will ultimately figure out where to draw the lines in the Mac-iPad divide. The market will tell the company how to position each product, McGregor said.

Apple’s iPad shipments have been declining. The company shipped 16 million iPads in the first financial quarter of 2016, a decline from the 21.4 million units shipped in the same quarter a year earlier.

Tablet shipments totaled 206.8 million in 2015, declining by 10.1 percent from 2014,according to IDC. But shipments of hybrids like the Surface and iPad Pro are growing, IDC said.

Google Photos for iOS Updated with Live Photos Support

Google Photos on iOS now supports auto-backup of Live Photos and receives a few smaller updates.

With the latest version of iOS, released about 6 months ago, Apple added Live Photos to the list of features for it’s smartphones. Live Photos captures a photo with sound and video before and after the moment the picture was taken to make your moments “living memories”.

Of course, since Live Photos includes video and sound as a part of the file, it takes up more space than traditional pictures. This means that users will run out of space on their devices and in the 5GB of iCloud storage that Apple gives users. However, now that Google Photos supports the moving images, Apple users can feel free to turn on the feature and no longer worry about running out of space for their pictures.

In addition to the Live Photos support, Google Photos users on iPad will be able to use the app in Split View. That means that you can now use Google Photos side-by-side with other apps supporting Split View on iPad mini 4, iPad Air 2, and iPad Pro. Also, the app now fully supports iPad Pro. Previously, the app would scale up to the iPad Pro’s 12.5 inch screen without displaying in full resolution.

The updates don’t stop there! The Google Photos app on iOS now features faster navigation. The app will now rely less on fewer hamburger menus, meaning that it will take fewer clicks to complete actions. Finally, in order to help with memory usage, the app will reduce the usage of cache when your iPhone or iPad is running low on storage.

Two-Column Stream, Quick Access to Google Apps on Google+ iOS v5.4

The iOS version of the Google+ app receives a number of new features under its belt.

Coming on the heels of Apple’s announcements a day earlier, the team at Google+ made an announcement of their own with the release of version 5.4 for iOS.

Two-Column Stream

If you’re using the Google+ app on an iPad in landscape mode, you’ll be ecstatic to know that version 5.4.0 finally supports two-column stream browsing. Now you can enjoy more content from your favourite Circles without wasting precious screen real estate!

Google Apps Quick Access

There are times when you want to switch over to another Google app as quickly and as hassle-free as possible, and using the App Switcher just isn’t fast enough. Not to worry, as this update brings quick access shortcuts to Google Photos, Hangouts and Google Search, available in the left navigation drawer.

Notification Filters

You might receive a ton of notifications everyday, whether they be from circles you get notified of every time a new post arrives, comments on posts that you previously made, or people adding you to their circles. With Notification Filters (which first made a brief appearance on the G+ Android app) now on iOS v5.4.0, you can now sift through them all by All, Unread or Other. This will save you lots of time and effort endlessly swiping to read more important notifications.

Other features that made it in this release are inline commenting on posts and the now-dismissible “Notifications disabled” banner.

And, like with every other update, numerous bugs were found and fixed; this time 11 met their demise, in addition to two accessibility issues getting addressed.

Use Preview on a Mac to Add Your Signature to Emails and Documents

Use-Preview-on-a-Mac-to-Add-Your-Signature-to-Emails-and-Documents

If you have a Mac, you have Preview, but you might not know this helpful little utility can store digital signatures for you-signatures that can then be appended to PDFs, Pages documents and Mail messages. Here’s how to set up your signatures and add them to to your digital files.

First, create your signature(s): in Preview, choose Tools, Annotate, Signature and then Manage signatures. The dialog that appears lets you sign your name on the trackpad or use your Mac’s webcam to scan in a signature (a business card works well). Unwanted signatures can be removed by clicking the x to the right of the relevant entry.

Use Preview on a Mac to Add Your Signature to Emails and Documents

Once you’re done with that, you can add your signature in various places in Apple programs. In PDFs opened in Preview, click the toolbox icon (top right) then the signature icon to choose one of your scribbles and insert it into the document (you can add new signatures from here too). The same markup tools are available if you open up a PDF in Mail as well.

Adding the signature in Mail and Pages is slightly more convoluted: you need to take a screenshot of it inside a PDF (Cmd+Shift+4 then click and drag), then drag the picture into the app of your choice. If you open the Mail menu then clickPreferences and Signatures, you can drop the captured doodle into one of your email signatures.