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Sunday, February 10, 2019

How do crooks break into iCloud-locked iPhones? Let's take a look by Francis Navarro

What would you do if you lost your iPhone? Or worse, if it was stolen? The right thing to do is to first use Find My iPhone to try and locate, and in the worst case scenario, remotely wipe it.
Next, you will probably report the iPhone as lost or stolen to your carrier or Apple to prevent the gadget from being resold. There are serial number blacklist, IMEI locks and more importantly, Apple iCloud account locks that can prevent your phone from being reactivated.
However, despite these activation locks and kill switches that help thwart thieves, there will always be hackers and scammers who will remain one step ahead of the curve. Let's take a look at their latest techniques.

How do hackers resell stolen iPhones and iPads?

A new extensive report from Motherboard details the various ways hackers can unlock iCloud-locked iPhones and iPads so they can reactivate them and sell them.
See, in 2013, Apple introduced the iCloud locking to iPhones and iPads. This means that only one iCloud account can be associated with an iPhone or iPad and in order to sell it (or give it to someone else), that account has to be completely removed and unlinked from the gadget.
This also means that resetting and reactivating the iCloud-locked iPhone or iPad will require the password of the linked iCloud account. Without this, the gadget can't be set up as new.
This is why stolen iPhones that are iCloud-locked are almost completely useless and are often sold just for parts. Note: If you see a Craigslist or eBay listing for a cheap iCloud-locked (also, IMEI blocked) iPhone or iPad, stay away from it! Not only is it useless, it could be stolen or lost merchandise.
But as usual, iPhones and iPads will always be hot items and crooks have found ways around this.

Obtain the iCloud account password via phishing or social engineering

One popular method for reactivating iCloud-locked iPhones and iPads is via old-school phishing scams where resellers will try and locate the original owner then trick them into giving up their Apple ID/ iCloud password.
Black market Apple gadget resellers apparently rely on special iCloud phishing kits that are easy to use and they can be purchased through underground online chats and iPhone hacking message boards.
Based on Motherboard's investigation, these phishing kits come with pre-designed templates that are designed to fool the victims into thinking that their lost iPhone was found.
For example, a hacker could send out a text message that appears to be from Apple containing a link that's designed to steal your Apple ID credentials. These kits can even send out a fake map of where the lost iPhone was located to further reinforce the ruse. Click here to see how these fake Apple login pages can clean you out.
But how do these hackers find out about an iPhone's activation lock status? They reportedly use paid lookup databases that could tell if an iPhone has "Find My iPhone" enabled or if it was already reported lost, stolen, or clean. (Some hackers even claim to have access to Apple's Global Service Exchange - GSX - a repair database used by authorized Apple service centers and Apple itself.)
With these tricks, once the hackers get the iCloud credentials they need, they can simply enter them on the locked iPhone, clear it out then resell them.

Use fake receipts and trick Apple employees into removing the iCloud lock

Although phishing scams are popular among cybercriminals, they can be hard to pull off and there's a good chance that tech-savvy users won't fall for them.
But hackers have another trick up their sleeves - they are going straight to Apple and have the company's employees do the dirty work themselves!
Using photoshopped fake receipts and invoices, scammers are starting to take locked iPhones to Apple Stores, claim that they have forgotten their iCloud password and have Apple employees unlock the devices for them.
See, according to documents obtained by Motherboard, Apple Stores have an "iCloud Support App" that lets employees check the iCloud status of an iPhone or iPad, and it also allows managers to request the unlocking of the device.
With an authentic-looking receipt and detailed information about the gadget (IMEI number, date of purchase, name on the iCloud account, etc.) obtained from online databases, it's not hard to see why this method is becoming more popular.
Note: Keep in mind that an iCloud lock is different from your iPhone's passcode. Your passcode will lock your screen and encrypt your iPhone's data, while an iCloud lock will prevent it from being reactivated under a different account.

Steal the iPhone with physical threats and force the owner to disable iCloud

While phishing and social engineering scams are devious, at least they don't cause physical harm. But, it looks like street-level crooks are stepping up their game, and they are now using violent threats to force victims into deleting their iCloud accounts from their iPhones.
Last month, Motherboard notes that there have been reports of iPhone muggings in Philadelphia where the suspects are holding their victims up at gunpoint, demanding that they pull up their iPhones, disable "Find My iPhone" then log out of their iCloud account.
Another case filed in Washington detailed how a teenager placed a woman in a chokehold and asked her to delete her iCloud from her iPhone 6S, then ran away with it.
It's scary enough that a thief would steal your smartphone right out of your hand while you're using it, but using violent threats to force you into removing your iCloud account? That's an entirely new level of hi-tech crime.
Want to learn more about this disturbing trend? Listen to this free Komando podcast and hear Kim talk about in just a minute.

How to protect your iCloud account

Secure your iCloud Account Password immediately
First order of business, if your iPhone was stolen or lost, change the password of your iCloud account immediately. Even if attackers get a hold of your credentials and try to lock your device, the password will be invalid, foiling the attempt.
Beware of phishing scams
And as usual, beware of phishing scams. Elaborate phishing scams that use fake login pages that look like the real deal are becoming more common.
This is why it's important to carefully check the addresses or URLs of the websites you visit, especially login pages.
Keep Passwords Separate for Each Account
This is recommended not only for your iCloud account but also for every other online account. Every password is best kept unique, rather than using the same password everywhere. When you use the same password for every account, hackers find it easy to attack you.
If one of your accounts is attacked, chances are the other accounts will not be safe for too long. On the other hand, having unique passwords for each account will keep the other accounts safe even if one of them is compromised.
Activate Two-Step Authentication
While this can't stop your lost iPhone from being reset, it does help protect all your data stored in your iCloud account. This includes pictures, emails and contacts.
When you have two-step authentication enabled, Apple will send you a passcode on your device to ensure it was you who requested access and not someone else. Even in the event of someone gaining access to your account, since they do not have passcode access to the data stored they will not be able to access said data.
Note: Although iCloud's two-step can protect your account, it has one glaring weakness. Click here to read more about it.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Take this Google quiz to see if you can spot phishing emails I got five correct out of eight. by Marrian Zhou

You're worried that you might get scammed online? If you aren't, you should be.
Jigsaw, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, on Tuesday introduced a quiz that tests whether you can spot a phishing email. The results point out how to identify possible scams.
Phishing emails are one of most common forms of online scams, according to Jigsaw's blog post.

They're fake emails that hackers and scammers use as bait to steal your passwords, information, money or items you've listed on e-commerce sites like eBay. In June, the FBI busted a major email fraud criminal ring that stole millions of dollars from businesses by targeting employees who had access to company finances. Phishing emails pretending that they're from Apple Support are also on the rise.

"We created this quiz based on the security trainings we've held with nearly 10,000 journalists, activists, and political leaders around the world from Ukraine to Syria to Ecuador," Jigsaw said in the blog post. "We've studied the latest techniques attackers use, and designed the quiz to teach people how to spot them."

The quiz will show you how to check email addresses and URLs to identify scams. In addition, you can check out CNET's tips for avoiding scams and find out what to do when you're scammed on e-commerce platforms.

Getting back up: How a broken Chromebook proves that Google wins the cloud Use anywhere, on anything by Ara Wagoner

When your computer is just a landing pad for your cloud connections, broken laptops aren't the end of the world. They're not even the end of your work day.
Ara Wagoner

My primary computer — my practically perfect Pixelbook — is broken and likely going in for repairs later this week. Three years ago that would have terrified me, but today? Today, it's a mild annoyance, and that's mostly because I had to waste half a morning on a full-tilt System Recovery to prove my hardware issue to Google support. The spartan setup that made Chrome OS a godsend for enterprise and educators has given me the freeing realization that not even a broken computer can put a damper on my peace of mind — or my productivity.

If my Windows laptop needed to be sent off for repairs — or even just factory reset for troubleshooting purposes — backing up my data would eat at least half a day, and the factory reset and restoration of my apps and services would take the rest of the day and then some. Despite Windows increasing compatibility with cloud storage and syncing, the majority of your programs and data aren't easily backed up, and even once they are, restoring that data after a factory reset — and the hours of system updates that follow it — can eat hours and hours of time you could be working or redditing or living your life.
System recovery in progress
From writing a system recovery flash drive to wiping my Chromebook and getting set back up and troubleshooting the clean system, I needed less than an hour. Backing up my local files took 2 minutes — after all, just about the only locally stored files are in the Downloads folder — and my Chrome extensions like Auto Text Expander synced back up before I even finished logged into the freshly recovered Pixelbook. It was quick and it was as painless as starting over on a fresh machine could be.
Chromebooks are expendable by design, and that is indispensable.
For years, Google's touted the expendable nature of individual Chromebooks to system administrators and the board members that approve their G-Suite contracts: If your student/employee breaks their Chromebook, simply sign them into a new machine and they'll be back to work in minutes. This may feel like something you can only take advantage of if you have the luxury of owning multiple Chromebooks — I'm using a four-year-old Lenovo Chromebook while my Pixelbook is out of commission — but even if you only own one, this way of computing can save your deadline and your delicate sanity.
Sign in and get back to work
If someone walked in and Hulk-smashed your one and only Chromebook, you could go to any other computer in town — from Grandma's Gateway laptop to the public library's Chromebox lab to that 24-hour net cafe downtown that always smells like weed — and the second you signed into Chrome, you'd get back 70% of your normal setup. When my parents helped me move cross-country, my mother didn't bother bringing a laptop with her. She just signed into her accounts on my Chromebook, did her email checking and Facebook browsing, and then she signed out when she was done.

This versatility is doubly helpful for Chromebook troubleshooting and security. The vast majority of your Chromebook is already backed up, so if your Chromebook ever even starts to feel sluggish or "off" for any reason, you can Powerwash it as easily as a game of Solitaire, and in less time than a game of Solitaire. Chromebooks have become the go-to platform many international travelers turn to not just because they're easy to replace if someone steals it; they can Powerwash a Chromebook before and/or after they give it to Customs, ensuring that no one is snooping through their files or bugging their machines.

Before I ever call up the support line for my Chromebook, I can — and have — done every single troubleshooting step tech support could ask in the span of a lunch break. That shortens the support call and speeds along a warranty support claim, getting me back to work before I fall behind. This saves me — and the unfortunate support rep that takes my call — time and sanity, and it is a simple, speedy superpower that I've yet to see from any other platform.
Sign in an get working
Best of all, whether your Chromebook is out for repairs or simply gone forever, you can still get your work done on a loaner machine or a public machine while you're waiting for a replacement Chromebook to ship out to you. Your Chromebook is just a landing pad for your cloud connections and your Chrome browser settings, and you can re-establish those anywhere you, your internet, and your two-factor authentication codes are.

And that's just as amazing for you and your tech-illiterate uncle as it is for your overworked office sysadmin.

Why you need to buy smart bulbs now By Komando Staff, Komando.com


When researchers asked consumers if they use smart LED bulbs, only 11 percent said yes, but the majority -- 62 percent -- said they hadn't yet, but they could imagine using them. How about you? Are smart lightbulbs on your wish list?
Smart bulbs are internet-connected lightbulbs. They're among the most affordable smart devices on the market, so if you're new to connected devices and aren't sure if you like the idea, smart bulbs could be a good starting place. What do smart bulbs do? We'll tell you.

We have five reasons why you'll love smart bulbs like Philips Hue and Kasa Smart Bulb, including one that might surprise you. You can save money buying smart bulbs, rather than incandescent bulbs - keep reading and we'll tell you how.

Internet-connected lightbulbs can protect your home

Before we get into the great things that smart bulbs can do, we want to remind you that connected devices are vulnerable to hackers. Check your router's security settings. Make sure your wireless cameras are secure. And secure your home's Wi-Fi.

You control smart bulbs by downloading the manufacturer's app and installing it on your smart phone or smart device. After you pair your device with the lightbulb, you'll be able to turn the lights on when you're away, dim them, and set routines based on your time, location or other triggers.

You can hook some of them up to turn on when motion sensors are triggered. Your smart bulbs will light up your house to scare off would-be intruders.
6 smart home upgrades to help sell your house

Smart bulb mood settings


One of the coolest (or warmest?) features of smart bulbs is the rainbow of colorful settings. You can choose from a whole spectrum of whites, from cool fluorescent-like bright whites (which is great for finding a dropped contact lens) to warmer, softer whites that are better for reading.

If you live in an older home that doesn't have dimmer switches, you can use the smart bulbs and your smart devices to dim the bulbs; no need to hire an electrician to install dimmer switches or buy special lamps with dimmers.

Some bulbs, like the Lifx brand, can turn red, orange, yellow, green -- every color of the rainbow. You can also set lights to blink (great for parties) or toggle through colors. Lifx claims to have over 16 million colors!

Do smart bulbs save money?

You're not alone if you think it costs a lot of money to set up a smart lighting system in your home. You should be prepared to spend about $99 on a system like the Philips Hue A19 60W Equivalent LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit.

You can spend $20 or more for a set of smart bulb after that. That is true, but you might be surprised that you can save money over time with smart bulbs.

For one thing, there are more companies manufacturing them, which should force prices down. You can also buy smart bulbs like the Alexa-compatible Kasa smart light bulb that costs less than $20 and doesn't require you to set up a costly smart home hub.

More to the point, smart bulbs can save you money on your electric bill. It's estimated that you'll save $6 each year for each incandescent light bulb you replace with a smart LED bulb.
3 easy ways to get free and discounted smart home gadgets

Use your voice to control your bulbs


Your smart home and smart LED bulbs are increasingly compatible with smart speakers like Amazon's Alexa-enabled Echo and Google Home. You can set up your smart bulbs to turn on, turn off and dim with your voice -- "OK, Google, turn off the lights."

Use your smartphone to turn on your lights

You do just about everything imaginable with your smartphone - we all do! You're making calls for work.

You're getting alerts on your calendar for everything from picking up your kids from school to getting to the airport on time. If you have smart home gadgets like a thermostat, you're using your smartphone from anywhere in the world to adjust it.

You can do the same thing with your smart LED lights. You can use your phone to turn them on or off, so you're saving money on your electric bill, scaring away burglars or making your home warm and inviting for your grandkids, your dog sitter and you!
Source: Statista

5 reasons to 'get smart' about your thermostat

You're always cranking up your thermostat. Why is it so cold? Why is it so hot?
With record low temperatures this winter and soaring summer temps, it's no wonder you're constantly adjusting your thermostat. The problem is, you're also cranking up your electric bill.
We have 5 reasons you'll want to switch to a smart thermostat, including the convenience of letting it do the adjusting for you. But the biggest reason you'll want to switch is that it can help lower your electric bill.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Over 1 Billion Logins Leaked. Have You Been Compromised?

Don't Downgrade to 8.1 From WIndows 10

Dont Downgrade to 8.1 From Windows 10 by How To Geek on Scribd

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Lock Down Your Tech 2019 Resolutions

New Year 2019

New Year 2019 by on Scribd

What Happens When You Turn on Your Computer by How-To-Geek

Friday, November 30, 2018

   Finding Parked Car by iPhoneLife on Scribd

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Free VPNs by Chris Hoffman

While using a VPN, you’re placing an immense amount of trust in the VPN operator. Sure, a VPN prevents your Internet service provider or Wi-Fi hotspot operator from snooping on your browsing. But it doesn’t stop the operator of the VPN server from snooping.

When your traffic leaves the VPN, the operator of the VPN server can see the websites you’re accessing. If you’re accessing unencrypted HTTP websites, the VPN operator can see the full content of the pages. The operator could keep logs on this data, or sell it for advertising purposes.

Let’s put it this way: When you use a VPN, you’re preventing the hotspot at the hotel or airport and your Internet service provider from spying on your traffic. But you’re letting the VPN provider spy on your traffic instead. Why would you trust a free VPN provider you’ve never heard of?

A recent investigation by Metric Labs spotted by The Register drew attention to this problem, discovering the majority of free VPN apps have links to China and 86% of them had unsatisfactory privacy policies. Some explicitly stated they transfer user data to China. Most of them had customer support emails pointing to generic personal email accounts on services like Gmail or Hotmail. These don’t sound like services worthy of your trust.

If you’re using a VPN for privacy or escaping Internet censorship, you probably don’t want to use a VPN based in China.

China aside, you wouldn’t want to use a shady VPN hosted in a country with a less repressive government either. The VPN company may just be capturing and selling your data. Or they may keep lots of logs—and, if you’re using a VPN for something like BitTorrent, you probably don’t want to choose a VPN that logs all your traffic.

What You Should Use Instead

Stay away from free VPNs. It costs a company money to host a VPN server and pay for traffic, so why would that company give you a free service without getting something out of it?

As a free VPN for occasional use, we recommend Tunnelbear. This service only gives you 500 MB of data every month, which isn’t much. But it’s well-regarded, and the company’s business model is selling you unlimited VPN data. It’s like a free sample every month, but it can do if you only occasionally need VPN service in a pinch.

If you’re serious about using a VPN for privacy, torrenting, bypassing censorship, or getting around geographical restrictions online, we recommend doing some research and paying for a service you feel is trustworthy. We have a guide for selecting a VPN service. You don’t have to use our top picks but do some research. Your VPN provider sits between you and all your online traffic, and they can see it. You should find a company with a solid privacy policy and reputation. You’ll have to pay for that.

For serious privacy and anonymity, you should check out Tor. Tor is free, but it’s nowhere near as speedy as a VPN. It’s not something you’d want to use for all your Internet traffic.

If you’re an advanced user, you should seriously consider setting up your own VPN. Pay for hosting on a server or cloud service somewhere, install a VPN server, and connect to it. You’re now your own VPN operator—although the hosting service could potentially spy on you. There’s no escaping it.
You’re always placing trust in someone, so choose your VPN service (or hosting company) carefully.

Monday, November 26, 2018

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Which of Apple’s small laptops is right for you? by Michael Simon

If you’re in the market for a Mac notebook, there are basically two options: the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which offers a range of options to satisfy the most demanding of users, and everything else. Apple offers no less than four MacBooks with 12- or 13.3-inch screens, and deciding between them can be enough to give up and buy a Dell XPS 13.

We’re here to help. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, we’ve considered every angle, color, spec, and port to help you cut through the confusion and make sure you make the right choice.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Price

Apple’s pricing matrix for its smallest MacBooks isn’t much of a help when choosing which one to buy. While $300 separate the entry-level MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air is a 2017 model. Then there’s a cluster of three laptops with similar prices.

MacBook Air (2017): $999
MacBook Air (2018): $1,199
MacBook: $1,299
MacBook Pro (no Touch Bar): $1,299

If you want the Touch Bar MacBook Pro, you’ll need to spend at least $1,799, a significant increase over any of the prices here. But, you’re also getting a lot more computer, with twice as much storage as the non-Touch Bar Pro, an eighth-gen processor, True Tone display, and four USB-C ports. But for the sake of comparison, we’ll be comparing the non-Touch Bar model with the other models here.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Screen

macbook air 2018 hero Jason Cross/IDG
The MacBook is the smallest notebook here, with a 12-inch screen rather than a 13.3-inch one. However, it has the same resolution as the larger retina models:
MacBook Air (2017): 13.3-inch, 1440x900, 128 ppi
MacBook Air (2018): 13.3-inch, 2560x1600, 227 ppi
MacBook: 12-inch, 2304x1440, 226 ppi
MacBook Pro: 13.3-inch, 13.3-inch, 2560x1600, 227 ppi

The 2017 Air is the only MacBook with a non-Retina display, and the difference is palpable. It only has 128 pixels per inch, so images and text will definitely appear aliased. It also uses a twisted nematic (TN) display, which suffers from poor viewing angles and lesser overall quality as compared to the IPS displays on the other Retina MacBooks. One more tidbit: The Touch Bar version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro includes a Wide Color (DCI-P3) True Tone display while the non-Touch Bar model does not.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Size

If you’re buying one of these laptops, size is obviously a very important factor in your decision. Unsurprisingly, the four models are very similar in stature, with mere tenths of an inch separating three of the models:
MacBook Air (2017): 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.11-0.68 inches
MacBook Air (2018): 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.16-0.61 inches
MacBook: 11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14-0.52 inches
MacBook Pro: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59

As you can see, the MacBook is the smallest of the three, but not by much. Just 0.83 x 0.62 inches separate it from the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, and it’s less than a tenth of an inch thinner than the MacBook Air. At its thickest point, the new MacBook Air is actually thicker than the MacBook Pro, but since the latter doesn’t have a wedge design, the Pro will feel a bit thicker when carrying it. Defying its surname, the 2017 MacBook Air is the thickest and largest of the bunch, clocking in at nearly two inches wider than the MacBook despite having the same-sized screen.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Design

macbook air 2018 vs pro13 Jason Cross/IDG
The MacBook Pro, MacBook, and 2018 MacBook Air have a very similar aesthetic: Skinny black bezels flank the screen and a giant trackpad is centered below the black keys. As the MacBook is the smallest model, the keys abut the sides of the enclosure and the speakers are above the keyboard, while the 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have enough space alongside the keys for a pair of stereo speakers. They’re all instantly recognizable as modern Apple notebooks, even if they no longer have a glowing Apple logo.
The 2017 MacBook Air, however, is the last remaining Apple laptop that does have a logo that lights up, though it comes with a much older design. The bezels around the screen are silver and much bigger than on the other MacBooks, and the trackpad is significantly smaller, leaving quite a bit of dead space below the keyboard. It’s a nice design but feels a little dated.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Colors

You can get any of these MacBooks in silver, as well as a few other colors:
MacBook Air (2017): Silver
MacBook Air (2018): Silver, Space Gray, Gold
MacBook: Silver, Space Gray, Gold
MacBook Pro: Silver, Space Gray
It basically boils down to a matter of preference, but if you have your heart set on gold, the MacBook Pro is out.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Weight

All of Apple’s notebooks are light enough to toss in a bag without adding too much weight, but the MacBook is still significantly lighter than the others:
MacBook Air (2017): 2.96 lbs
MacBook Air (2018): 2.75 lbs
MacBook: 2.03 lbs
MacBook Pro: 3.02 lbs
There was a time when the 2017 MacBook Air was Apple’s lightest laptop. But now, compared to its modernized brethren, it’s fairly heavy, weighing nearly as much as the beefier MacBook Pro. The 2018 MacBook Air sheds about a quarter of a pound, but it’s still a good deal heavier than the non-Air MacBook. That’s just plain confusing.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Processor

compiling / code / coding / programming / MacBook Air laptop Goran Ivos (CC0)
As with any PC, processor speed is where the MacBooks really set themselves apart from each other. First let’s check out the base processor for each model:
MacBook Air (2017): 1.8GHz dual-core fifth-gen Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz
MacBook Air (2018): 1.6GHz dual-core eighth-gen Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
MacBook: 1.2GHz dual-core seventh-gen Intel Core m3, Turbo Boost up to 3.0GHz
MacBook Pro: 2.3GHz dual-core seventh-gen Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz

To the untrained eye, the old MacBook Air might seem faster than the new one. That’s not the case. The 2017 Air uses a dusty fifth-generation Core i5 chip while the new model uses a current eighth-gen one. So it’s quite a bit faster. The MacBook Pro, meanwhile, uses a seventh-gen i5 with a much higher clock speed, so it’s the fastest of the lot, as it should be.

The MacBook uses Intel’s slower Core m3 processor, so it’s markedly slower than the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, but a bit faster than the 2017 Air. However, you can bump it up to 1.3GHz dual-core seventh-generation Intel Core i5 processor if you desire for an extra $300. The Pro can also be seriously souped up, with options up to a 2.3GHz quad‑core eighth‑generation Intel Core i7 processor in the Touch Bar model and going up from there.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Graphics

With integrated graphics, none of the MacBooks here are going to get you very far if you’re looking to do high-end gaming or serious graphics-intensive work. Still, they all offer slightly different GPUs, with the Pro leading the pack once again:
MacBook Air (2017): Intel HD Graphics 6000
MacBook Air (2018): Intel UHD Graphics 617
MacBook: Intel HD Graphics 615
MacBook Pro: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
Despite having a higher number, the 2017 MacBook Air brings up the rear as usual, with an old, slow GPU. The others are far more capable, with the Iris Plus in the MacBook Pro edging out the UHD unit in the Air. And if you step up to the Touch Bar version, you get a slightly better Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 with 128GB of eDRAM (versus 64GB on the non-Touch Bar model).

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: RAM

mbp 13 Michael DeAgonia/IDG
The new 13-in. MacBook Pro sitting in top of a MacBook Air, showing the new model’s smaller footprint.
All of the models start at 8GB of RAM and offer up to 16GB, but there’s a slight difference in speeds between them:
MacBook Air (2017): 8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory
MacBook Air (2018): 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
MacBook: 8GB 1866MHz LPDDR3 memory
MacBook Pro: 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory

RAM speed won’t make a noticeable difference in performance (even jumping from 1600MHz in the 2017 Air to 2133MHz in the 2018 model), but if you can afford it, more RAM is always better. On each of these models (except the 2017 Air), you can double the RAM to 16GB for an extra $200. That’s a steep price for 8GB of RAM, but since you can’t upgrade it after the fact, it’s something to consider, no matter which model you buy.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Storage

All of Apple’s laptops offer SSD storage, so no matter which model you choose, you’re going to be getting a very fast drive. The only difference is the entry-level capacity:
MacBook Air (2017): 128GB
MacBook Air (2018): 128GB
MacBook: 256GB
MacBook Pro: 128GB

Like RAM, you’ll want to get the most you can afford at the time of purchase. Apple offers a slew of upgrade options for the MacBook Air and Pro, topping off at 1.5TB, and we definitely recommend upgrading from the 128GB offered in the base models. As a general rule, Apple charges $200 per extra 128GB, but strangely, there are no SSD BTO options on the MacBook. If you want more storage, you’ll have to buy the Core i5 model with 512GB of storage for an extra $300.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Ports

macbook air 2018 vs mb12 tb Jason Cross/IDG
Here’s what separates the machines from the toys. On the MacBook you get just a single USB-C port and headphone jack, while you get several connectivity options on the Pro:
MacBook Air (2017): Two USB 3, one Thunderbolt 2, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack
MacBook Air (2018): Two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
MacBook: One USB-C (non-Thunderbolt), 3.5mm headphone jack
MacBook Pro: Two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack

Once again, the 2017 MacBook Air shows its age here, with USB-A ports and a previous-gen Thunderbolt port, as well as an old-school MagSafe magnetic connector for charging. The MacBook is also frustratingly weak with I/O, with just a single non-Thunderbolt USB-C port to handle charging and peripheral connections. So a dock and dongles are pretty much a requisite if you’re going to be doing anything resembling work.

The newer Air adds a second USB-C Thunderbolt port, which lets you do two things at once, but you’ll still probably want to pick up a hub to add some extra functionality. You’ll also get a pair of USB-C ports with the entry-level Pro, but the gold standard is the Touch Bar model, with four USB-C ports, enough to connect a charger, display, and two peripheral devices.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Keyboard/Trackpad

While all the keyboards here are full-sized with ambient light sensors for backlighting, the 2017 MacBook Air is the only model that doesn’t use the much-maligned butterfly keyboard. The 2018 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar use a newer third-generation version than protects against damaging dust and dirt and dampens the noise of the keys somewhat, but it’s still boils down to a matter of preference. The MacBook Air also uses Apple’s older trackpad, which supports gestures but not Force Touch commands.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Touch ID, Touch Bar, and security

macbook pro 2016 touchbar IDG
The MacBook, MacBook Air, and entry-level MacBook Pro have a row of function keys at the top of the keyboard. If you select the13-inch 2.3GHz quad-core eighth-gen Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro, you’ll get the Touch Bar, which replaces the function keys row with a narrow screen of keys that change based on the app you’re using.

The MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar and the new MacBook Air come equipped with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor at the far right of top row of the keyboard. Like the iPhone and iPad, it can be used to unlock your Mac, authenticate secure apps such as password managers, and make purchases. The MacBook and 2017 MacBook Air don’t have a fingerprint sensor.

Along with Touch ID, the MacBook Pro and 2018 MacBook Air also have Apple’s T2 security chip, which “enables a new level of security by including a secure enclave coprocessor that provides the foundation for new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities.” It’s responsible for storing and encrypting your fingerprint biometrics, protecting your MacBook’s microphone from potential hackers.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Battery

All of Apple’s small laptops will get you through a full day of work, give or take a few tasks:
MacBook Air (2017): 54‑watt‑hour battery, up to 12 hours iTunes movie playback
MacBook Air (2018): 50.3‑watt‑hour battery, up to 13 hours iTunes movie playback
MacBook: 41.4-watt-hour battery, up to 12 hours iTunes movie playback
MacBook Pro: 54.5-watt-hour battery, up to 10 hours iTunes movie playback

The battery life of Apple’s MacBooks is largely dependent on the power and efficiency of processor, which is why the MacBook Pro, which has the largest battery of the group, is rated for the shortest amount of use. Of note, if you step up to the Touch Bar model, you’ll get a slightly larger 58-watt-hour battery, but it’s still rated for the same 10 hours of iTunes playback.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Buying advice

Now that you know what’s different about Apple’s smallest laptops, which one should you buy? The choice isn’t as difficult as you might think.

MacBook Air (2017): Buying advice

13in macbook air 03 IDG
Unless you have exactly a thousand dollars to spend (plus tax) and you absolutely
have to have a MacBook, there isn’t any reason to buy the 2017 MacBook Air. (And even them we’d recommend getting a refurbished MacBook.) Even with the lowest entry price among Apple notebooks, it’s still overpriced, and the only things it has going for it are superficial: the non-butterfly keyboard, glowing Apple logo, and magnetic MagSafe connector. The list of things it doesn’t have is far longer: USB-C, Retina screen, Touch ID, Force Touch trackpad, respectable processor. And its design very much feels like it’s eight years old.
Recommendation: Only buy it if you can get it for $700 or less.

MacBook Air (2018): Buying advice

macbook air 2108 hero2 Jason Cross/IDG
Apple’s newest laptops are generally a safe purchase, and the 2018 MacBook Air is no
exception. While it doesn’t necessarily bring anything revolutionary to the table, it’s a fantastic upgrade over the previous generation and well worth the $1,199 price tag. It has a great design, comes in three excellent colors, and is the only non-Touch Bar MacBook to include a Touch ID sensor and T2 chip.

Unfortunately you can’t upgrade the processor, but the 1.6GHz dual-core eighth-generation Intel Core i5 should be plenty of power for anyone considering this machine. The battery, storage, and Retina display are all good, too, though if you can swing it, an extra 128GB storage will go a long way.

Recommendation: If you want the best 13-inch Mac laptop that’s not a Pro, this is it.

MacBook: Buying advice

macbook 2017 usbc port Roman Loyola
Unless an inch and three-quarters of a pound mean that much to you, we can’t see
any reason to recommend paying $100 more to get the MacBook over the new MacBook Air. The entry-level MacBook does have 256GB of storage versus 128GB on the MacBook Air, which makes the $100 price hike easier to swallow, but otherwise you get a slower processor, smaller screen, one fewer USB-C port (and a non-Thunderbolt one at that), and a smaller battery. And it doesn’t have Touch ID.

Recommendation: Buy the MacBook if you absolutely have to have the smallest and lightest MacBook.

MacBook Pro: Buying advice

2018 macbook pro 13 Apple
The difference between the MacBook Pro and the other MacBooks comes down to
versatility. The $1,299 non-Touch Bar model has a better processor than the MacBook Air, but not overly so, and it has the same base storage, RAM, ports, and screen. The Air is lighter, feels thinner due to its wedge design, and has better battery life. And the Air’s Touch ID sensor is just a bonus that isn’t available on the entry-level MacBook Pro.

But the Pro offers tremendous upgrade options. Like the Air, you can double the RAM and add a terabyte of storage, and you can also upgrade the processor, something you can’t do on the Air. And of course, there’s no Touch Bar option on the Air either.

Recommendation: For the right price, the MacBook Pro can be the ultimate 13-inch Mac, but if you only have a budget of $1,300, we’d get an Air with 256GB of storage for just $100 more.

MacBook Air vs MacBook vs 13-inch MacBook Pro: Our overall pick

For $1,199, the 2018 MacBook Air is hard to pass up. It’s $100 cheaper than the MacBook and MacBook Pro, giving you room to upgrade the storage without breaking your budget, and has a fantastic design, Touch ID sensor, and T2 chip. The only other model we’d recommend is the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which starts at $1,799. However, you get a lot more for your money, including a 2.3GHz quad-core eighth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655, 256GB of storage, True Tone display, and four USB-C Thunderbolt ports. Unless you can get a crazy deal on a MacBook or 2017 MacBook Air, those are basically your only two options.

What method should you use to make sure your iOS photos are backed up? by Glenn Fleishman

With iOS backups, it’s still a little confusing about what happens to photos taken on an iOS device. When you perform a backup (automatic or otherwise), do your photos and videos get copied too? It varies!
  • Do you have iCloud Photos enabled?
  • Do you back up via iCloud or via iTunes to a computer?
From answers to those questions, you can figure out whether your backup contains your images and movies, and if not, how to make settings changes to fix that.

iCloud Photos enabled: If your iOS device has this turned on, then neither iTunes nor iCloud makes backups of images or video. The photo/video backup is instead entirely handled as part of the iCloud sync. (Also note that Apple recently changed the name from iCloud Photo Library, if you’re used to seeing that anem.) iCloud Photos retains the full, high-resolution versions of all your photo and videos.

iCloud Photos disabled: In this case, iTunes will copy all photos and videos locally. You can also use the Photos (or iPhoto) app to import images into a library, and delete and manage what’s stored on your phone or tablet through those apps or Image Capture.

iCloud backup: An iCloud backup is a different matter. Apple notes on its support page only, “iCloud Backup may include photos and videos in your Photos or Camera Roll.”

That’s hardly reassuring, and I’ve never been able to get a more definitive answer from Apple nor in testing! (I don’t think it’s a plot to push people to iCloud Photos, but it could explain the circumstances better.)

If you’re using iCloud backup and not iCloud Photos, you should consider routinely downloading images to ensure you don’t lose any.

Apple iPad Pro review: Excessive in the best way by Daniel Howley

Apple’s (AAPL) iPad is the most popular tablet in the world. As of Q3 2018, the iPhone maker’s line of slates captured 27% of worldwide tablet sales, making it the market leader by a wide margin, market research firm IDC reports. But tablet sales have been slowing in recent years, and Apple isn’t immune to market trends. The company’s Q4 2018 tablet sales were down 6% years-over-year and 16% quarter-over-quarter.

Which is where the new iPad Pro 11-inch and iPad Pro 12.9-inch come in. Designed for use by artists, photographers, videographers and other professionals, hence the “Pro” monicker, Apple claims these big-screen iPads are powerful enough to rival many of the laptops on the market.

It doesn’t hurt that a more expensive iPad will also drive up Apple’s average selling price, and boy are these some seriously pricey iPads. The iPad Pro 11-inch starts at $799, while the iPad Pro 12.9-inch starts at $999.

These slates, which sport sleek new edge-to-edge screen designs, are the best of what Apple has to offer, and overkill in almost every sense of the word. And while I love a big screen as much as the next person, these slates aren’t meant for everyone.

Like holding a piece of glass

From a design standpoint, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch, which is the version I reviewed, and 11-inch, are virtually mirror images of each other. And their most striking features are their displays. That’s right, like the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max, the new iPad Pros drop their Home buttons in favor of more screen real estate.

By doing so, Apple managed to reduce the volume of the 12.9-inch model by 25%. For the 11-inch, Apple simply stretched the screen of last year’s 10.5-inch model, leaving the 11-inch with the same roughly footprint as its predecessor.
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The iPad Pro has a fantastic edge-to-edge screen.
 
Of course, the overall look of the slates are also completely different from last year’s versions. Apple has done away with the tapered edges of the prior generation of Pros and straightened them out. The result is a tablet that, if you squint hard enough, bears a surprising resemblance to the iPhone 4s.
The 11-inch Pro is more comfortable to hold than the larger 12.9-inch, though. If I were sketching or editing a photo, I’d rather have the bigger screen. Those screens, by the way, are absolutely stunning to look at.

Both models use the same Liquid Retina display LCD technology found on the iPhone XR, which allowed Apple to curve the screens at the tablets’ corners. The displays are nearly edge-to-edge because they do have a bit of a bezel around them. Before you jump down Apple’s throat, though, the bezel makes practical sense as a way to hold the tablet without interacting with the screen. It’s also where the LEDs that light up the screen are located.

The tablet’s top bezel is also where you’ll find the Pro’s new Face ID camera. Yes, like the iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, you can now unlock the iPad Pro with your face. And unlike the iPhone’s Face ID camera, the iPad Pro’s can be used in multiple orientations, so you can hold the slate in portrait or landscape mode and it will still work. It makes sense since you change the way you hold a tablet fairly often depending on what you’re doing.

The Pros also come with Apple’s ProMotion display technology, which means the screens’ refresh rates are set at 120Hz. That makes for a far smoother, more appealing experience whether you’re swiping across home screens or browsing the web. It really makes a big difference when you see it in action.

Raw power

Both iPad Pros come loaded with Apple’s all-new A12X Bionic. That’s one heck of a chip for a slate, and, frankly, a little overboard for what most people need.

Apple says that the Pro’s 8-core, 7-nanometer processor is 25% faster than last year’s chip in single-core performance and that GPU performance is up a whopping 1,000% versus the original iPad. The company even claims that the slate is more powerful than 92% of mobile computers on the market including those packing Intel’s high-powered Intel Core i7 chips.
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The iPad Pro’s A12X Bionic processor is the most powerful chip Apple has put into a mobile device.
That’s one heck of a boast. And it holds up to a degree. Using the Geekbench 4 benchmarking tool, which is designed to give you a relative idea of a processor’s performance, the iPad Pro actually outscored my Core i7-powered MacBook Pro in both single-core and multi-core tests. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the iPad Pro will annihilate the MacBook Pro in every instance, but it gives you a good idea of how powerful the slate’s chip really is.

The thing is, is that there aren’t a hole lot of apps that will take advantage of that kind of power. Sure, it’s great for quick photo edits and some video editing, but for most people that power won’t be as useful as it would be on a Mac or PC. This is, after all, still an iPad. The slate’s processing power is incredibly impressive, but for now it’s more of a hedge against the tablet slowing down over time, rather than a means to use apps that are built for high-power iPads. That’s not to say those apps will come, though.

Those accessories

In addition to the iPad Pro, Apple has also rolled out a new Apple Pencil. The latest version of the stylus features one flat side that helps keep it from rolling off your desk, something that was a problem with the original Pencil.

More importantly, though, that flat edge is home to a wireless charger. To power up the Pencil, you magnetically connect it to the side of the iPad Pro, and you’re set. Only one side of the iPad works, though. Connecting the Pencil to the iPad also allows you to sync the stylus with your tablet, so you don’t have to go through any real setup process.

The lower portion of the Pencil is also now touch sensitive, which means you can double tap it to activate features and settings within specific apps. For instance you can switch between a pen or pencil and then double tap to quickly pull up your eraser.
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The iPad Pro uses a new Apple Pencil with wireless charging and touch-sensitive edges.
Unfortunately, you can’t use your old Apple Pencil with the new Pro, and you can’t use the new Pencil with the old Pro, which is a serious bummer. 

The Pro also gets a new folio keyboard case called … the Smart Keyboard Folio. The new cover wraps completely around the Pro protecting both its display and back panel, something the old Folio didn’t do.

Typing on it was also surprisingly comfortable. I wrote an article using just the iPad Pro and didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything thanks to the fact that the slate also supports multitasking.
Apple has also switched the Pro from the company’s proprietary Lightning connector to a universal USB C port. It makes a world of difference, as it opens up the iPad to even more accessories, such as a secondary display to mirror your work on the slate, or a camera. You can also charge your iPhone from the slate, which is a pretty nifty trick if you’re in a pinch.

Should you get it?

The iPad Pro is a high-powered slate with a fantastic design and almost extravagantly large near edge-to-edge display. The new Apple Pencil is a wonderful accessory for the more artistically inclined, while the Smart Keyboard Folio makes for a genuinely solid typing experience.

Above all, this is the perfect expression of the iPad: Powerful, stylish and capable. But for most people, that $799 or $999 price tag is likely too high. If you don’t need the power, or can get by without the new stylus or keyboard, and are more interested in a tablet for using basic apps, watching videos and playing games, then I’d suggest going with the 6th-generation iPad for $329.

But if you love excessive performance and screen real estate, the Pro is really the only tablet for you.