Dan Howley


Apple iPad 6th-generation review: The tablet to buy

Last month, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook took the stage at the Lane Tech College Prep High School to lay out his company’s plans to take over the education technology market. And the key to Apple-powered classrooms, Cook explained, was the iPad.

Not just any iPad would do, though. Which is why Cook and company debuted a new slate that packs a more powerful processor and Apple Pencil stylus compatibility, but costs the same $329 as the 5th-generation iPad.

But the 6th-generation iPad isn’t only meant for students and teachers. It’s also the company’s new mainstream consumer slate. In other words, the best tablet you can buy just got a lot better.

More of the same … in a good way

The 6th-generation iPad looks and feels exactly the same as the 5th-generation model. The slate is still 1-pound, still 0.29 inches thick and still easily fits in your bag. The company basically replaced the iPad’s guts and called it a day. And that’s fine by me.

Even the 9.7-inch Retina display is the same as last year’s offering, which is actually a bit of a bummer, as the iPad mini 4’s screen is fully laminated and has an anti-reflective coating. Both of those features are missing from the 6th-generation iPad.

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The tablet’s 8-megapixel rear camera is also a carryover from the 5th-generation iPad, which isn’t quite as sharp as the iPad Pro’s 12-megapixel rear camera, but matches up with the iPad mini 4’s.

If Apple raised the price of this iPad, I’d be questioning its decision to keep so many aspects of the tablet the same. But since the company is still charging $329, which is a solid price, it’s not really an issue.

Different where it matters

What makes Apple’s decision to maintain the size and weight of the iPad especially interesting is the fact that this slate packs the same A10 Fusion processor found in both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. In order to do that, Apple told me, the company had to build a completely new logic board.

The A10 chip allows for the use of augmented reality apps. One such app Apple offered up was Froggipedia. The app allows users to set a virtual frog down on a flat surface and interact with it using the iPad. A dissection tab even lets you dissect a digital frog without having to deal with the awful smell of the real thing.

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It’s not that the 5th-generation iPad was underpowered. The tablet had more than enough oomph to tackle any task you threw at it. But if Apple wants to ensure its 6th-gen tablet can keep up with new apps and updates, it needed to bring along the faster chip.

The 6th-generation iPad is also the first non-Pro iPad to offer support for the Apple Pencil stylus, and packs all of its features including its impressive pressure sensitivity and tilt functionality. Using the Pencil on the 6th-generation iPad is every bit as flawless as it is on the iPad Pro. The stylus’ tip glides across the tablet’s display with ease. It’s not quite a pen and paper, but then, nothing else is.

The vast majority of consumers are unlikely to purchase the $99 Apple Pencil. I’m sure it’ll be great for graphic artists and their ilk, but for the average person it’s an expensive add-on that they won’t use much.

The Pencil’s real value is in the classroom, where students and teachers can write directly on the slate to take notes, annotate articles and grade quizzes.  Still, even with the $89 student pricing option (the iPad is also reduced to $299 for students and teachers), the Pencil might be a tad bit expensive for classrooms with younger pupils who are bound to misplace the stylus.

To alleviate those concerns, Apple teamed up with Logitech to create the Logitech Crayon, a $49 Apple Pencil alternative. The Crayon offers many of the Apple Pencil’s features including its tilt functionality but sacrifices pressure sensitivity.

Compared to the iPad Pro

So, if the 6th-generation iPad offers Apple Pencil capabilities, what’s the difference between it and the iPad Pro? A lot, actually. First off, the 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pros cost significantly more than the 6th-generation. The base 10.5-inch carries a $329 premium over the iPad tablet, and for good reason.

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Not only are the Pros’ screens larger than the 6th-generation iPad’s panel, they are also fully laminated, have anti-reflective coatings, use Apple’s ProMotion and True Tone technologies and feature wide color capabilities. Put the 6th-generation iPad next to the Pro and you’ll immediately notice the difference. The Pro simply looks cleaner and more colorful. The 6th-generation is certainly no slouch, but the Pro offers a better picture.

The Pros also have more powerful A10X Fusion processors, which means you’ll get slightly better performance from the Pros versus the standard iPad. That said, I haven’t had any issue with the 6th-generation iPad. Games and apps all ran smoothly including titles like “Flower” and “Inside”“Player Unkown’s Battlegrounds Mobile” and “Fortnite.”

The iPad Pros also have one major difference compared with the iPad, which is that they have Smart Connectors that allow you to physically connect a keyboard to the tablet. The 6th-generation iPad, on the other hand, uses Bluetooth to connect to a keyboard. That’s because the Pros are meant to serve as laptop replacement devices, while the standard iPad is largely meant to be used as a tablet.

In terms of battery life, Apple claims up to 10 hours of use on a single charge across the iPad line. I’ve used my review unit on and off for a day or two and still had plenty of juice left.

Naturally, both the 6th-generation iPad and its more expensive brethren can run the millions of iOS apps available through Apple’s App Store.

Should you get it?

The iPad is the go-to tablet for consumers for a good reason: it’s the best there is. No Android or Amazon Fire tablet can compare, especially when it comes to app availability and overall capabilities. 

For the average consumer looking to update their old iPad or simply wants to purchase their first slate, the 6th-generation iPad is the gold standard.

If you want something that can replace your laptop, then you might want to opt for the iPad Pro with its larger screen and more powerful processor, or something like Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which is a full-on Windows 10 machine.

But for everyone else who just wants a fantastic slate with plenty of functionality, the 6th-generation iPad is easily the tablet to buy.

Email Daniel Howley at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

Losing Apple won’t kill Intel

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Apple (AAPL) is reportedly developing its own processors to replace the chips that Intel (INTC) currently supplies for the iPhone maker’s Mac line of desktops and laptops. And according to Bloomberg, the changeover might happen as soon as 2020.

As you’d expect, Intel’s shares took a major hit following the news, falling 6% at the close of the market on Monday. It’s certainly a blow to Intel, but it may not be as big of a deal as the sell-off would suggest.

That’s because Apple is only Intel’s fifth largest customer behind giants like Dell, HP and Lenovo, and according to Mercury Research’s Dean McCarron, makes up just $600 million in sales per quarter. In 2017, Intel’s PC division made $34 billion, Reuters reported. In total, the company made $62.8 billion in revenue in 2017.

It’s also worth noting that Intel is still the undisputed leader when it comes to processors for desktop and laptop computers across the board. As McCarron points out, Intel owns 88% of the laptop and desktop market worldwide. Its nearest competitor, AMD (AMD) has seen growth in the sector as of late thanks to its Ryzen chips, but it’s still far from a threat to Intel’s dominance.

And Apple hasn’t always used Intel chips. The Cupertino-based company previously used PowerPC processors, until former-CEO Steve Jobs announced the transition to Intel in 2005.

By making its own chips, Apple would be able to build specific features into its laptops and desktops without the need of a third-party manufacturer like Intel. It would also enable Apple to further merge its Mac line of computers with mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Producing its own processors will also further differentiate Apple’s machines from competitors like Dell and Lenovo. But the company will have to ensure that its own chips are able to match the capabilities of its current Intel-powered computers.

The challenges ahead

While losing Apple will sting Intel, the desktop and laptop markets haven’t been bastions of good fortune for the chipmaker over the last few years. Sales of PCs decreased precipitously for years, as fewer people upgrade as often, and smartphones and tablets have become the primary computing devices for more consumers.

More recently, sales have begun to even out, with IDC reporting that the market saw 0.7% year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, noting not to expect astronomical growth from this sector.

As far as overall PC share goes, Apple’s laptops, desktops and workstations made up just 8.2% of the market, with HP, Lenovo and Dell making up the vast majority of sales.

Intel was also hit especially hard by the revelation of the Spectre processor flaw that made it possible for hackers to gain access to fundamental pieces of users’ computers by tripping up the company’s CPUs. AMD had similar problems with a slightly different flaw, but since Intel makes up such a dramatic portion of the market, the Spectre flaw impacted a far larger number of consumers.

While Intel is best known for its stickers on PCs indicating the presence of the company’s chips under the hood, the most important business for the processor giant is the cloud. Intel powers the vast majority of servers currently in use.

In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, Bank of America analyst Vivek Arya indicates that Intel controls more than 90% of the server market. And while the PC industry isn’t predicted to see huge growth opportunities anytime soon, Arya says the cloud industry could see capital expenditure growth of 30% in 2018.

But Intel’s lead isn’t necessarily safe, as Nvidia and AMD are working to dethrone the current market leader. Nvidia (NVDA) in particular highlighted its server business during the Consumer Electronic Show earlier this year, pointing out the power savings clients could see by using Nvidia-powered servers.

So, while losing Apple is sure to take the wind out of Intel’s sales in the short term, it’s unlikely to truly hurt the company going forward.

Email Daniel Howley at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

How Facebook should fix its privacy problem

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Mark Zuckerberg is sorry that it’s too confusing to protect your privacy on his social network, and he promises to make that easier.

“The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information,” the Facebook (FB) founder and CEO wrote. “Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex.”

The problem for Facebook: Zuckerberg wrote those words in 2010, when he pledged these improvements in a Washington Post op-ed.

Eight years later, a much larger Facebook — with 2.1 billion users instead of the 400 million-plus Zuckerberg cited in that piece — is making strikingly similar assurances. The “It’s Time to Make Our Privacy Tools Easier to Find” headline on its post Wednesday would have fit just as well atop Zuckerberg’s 2010 essay.

The privacy interface does need work

Facebook isn’t wrong to talk about the privacy settings in its desktop site and mobile apps. They look like the product of a series of committees, with some parts showing far more attention to detail than others.

The Cambridge Analytica debacle — in which we learned that a researcher hired by that Trump-linked firm had collected the data of maybe 50 million Facebook users by getting about 270,000 of them to run a personality-test app under false pretenses — has directed a hot spotlight at one of the worst aspects of that interface.

Compared to the corresponding app-privacy settings in iOS and Android, it’s a disaster. There’s no overview showing which apps read categories of data — your friends list, your Likes, your photos — to match what Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) offer in their own Settings screens.

Until a few days ago, Facebook’s Apps settings also included an “Apps Others Use” section. The details there suggested that your friends’ apps were also peeking at your data, even though Facebook shut down that capability in 2015. What was this section still doing in 2018? Facebook’s story: It had meant to get around to removing it.

The other sense of privacy

But the larger failing of Facebook’s privacy user experience is how little insight and control it affords about Facebook’s own collection of data.

If you define privacy as “who can see what I post,” Facebook does very well — its settings governing that represent a model of transparency in a core function that remains incredibly useful at connecting people from afar. But if you define it as “what Facebook knows about me,” the social network turns opaque.

You can get a secondhand sense of Facebook’s understanding of you by visiting your ad preferences (facebook.com/ads/preferences/), which let you inspect and edit the interests that Facebook has discerned from your activity. This page also shows which advertisers have used Facebook’s “Custom Audiences” feature to map their customer lists to Facebook’s data.

If you download an archive of your data (an option that Facebook, to its credit, added back in 2010), you’ll also get a detailed inventory of the information you provided — or was provided on your behalf by Facebook’s apps. This was how we learned that enabling a contacts-sync option in some Android apps let Facebook log your text messages and calls until last October.

But neither your ad preferences nor your data download will reveal how much info Facebook has correlated from various sources to pinpoint your interests in almost real time — with borderline-creepy results that invite conspiracy theories about how the company must be turning on the microphone in its apps to snoop on our conversations.

Time for a data diet

A clearer privacy interface, which Facebook keeps promising every time it gets into trouble, won’t address its excessive appetite for information. This company and social-media firms in general need to adopt the concept of “data minimization” collecting only the information needed to do a task and then getting rid of it.

Under that idea, for example, Facebook could still ask for access to your contacts to help it find your friends on platform, but it would delete those records after making that scan. Having Facebook tell you when friends are nearby wouldn’t require it storing your location history. And having Messenger take over text messaging wouldn’t have it log your calls too.

In certain areas, Facebook should simply stop trying so hard. The vague algorithm that generates its “People You May Know” suggestions needs to get dialed way back. There are few easier ways to undermine your privacy on Facebook than to let distant acquaintances into your online life by accepting these mysterious endorsements.

It’s not as if Facebook has no experience with lowering its sights. Simply look at the quiet shelving of its past ambitions to replace e-mail and pay developers in its own currency.

And this time around, there’s an outside factor: the European Union’s sweeping General Data Protection Regulation.

When the GDPR goes into effect May 25, Facebook and any other site handling the data of EU residents will have to meet new standards for transparency, accountability and data portability. For instance, a site will have to declare upfront how it will use somebody’s data, then delete it on their request; in between, EU residents will be able to demand documentation on its tracking.

Now that it has to build those features into its European site and apps, Facebook can look smart and extend them to U.S. users–or it can subject them to second-class treatment and dig its own hole a little deeper.

Email

Rob

at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter at

@robpegoraro.

These companies and celebrities are done with Facebook

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It’s been roughly two weeks since the New York Times broke the story about how the data of 50 million Facebook users was captured and used without their consent by Cambridge Analytica as part of an effort to ensure Donald Trump won the 2016 election. And it doesn’t look like the embattled social media giant is going to see any improvements to its public image anytime soon.

In fact, a number of high-profile companies and celebrities have already deleted their accounts or suspended advertising on the site. Here are the most prominent organizations that have decided to leave Facebook and why.

Cher

Cher isn’t using Facebook for her personal profile as a result of the data leak, but the singer still has a fan page with dates for upcoming tours. On Twitter, Cher stated that her decision to leave Facebook also allowed her to delete a number of apps she no longer uses.

Commerzbank

Germany’s second-largest bank pulled its advertisements from Facebook after Mozilla, and expressed concern with how the platform handled users’ data as a result of the Cambridge Analytica controversy.

“We are pausing our campaign on Facebook. Brand safety and data security are very important to us,” Uwe Hellmann, head of Commerzbank’s brand strategy told the newspaper Handelsblatt.

Mozilla

Following the initial reports about the Facebook data scandal, Mozilla, which operates the Firefox web browser, announced that it is pulling its advertisements from the social network. In a statement released via its web page, Mozilla said that while it’s glad to see that Facebook promised to improve users’ privacy settings, it wants the company to go further with how third-party apps handle data.

“When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third-party apps, we’ll consider returning.”

Pep Boys

Auto parts retailer Pep Boys is no longer advertising on Facebook or posting to its account following the revelations in the New York Times’ report. In a statement to Reuters, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer Danielle Porto Mohn said “We are concerned about the issues surrounding Facebook and have decided to suspend all media on the platform until the facts are out and corrective actions have been taken.”

Playboy

On Wednesday, Playboy announced that it was deleting its Facebook pages citing the data scandal, as well as the network’s “sexually repressive” nature. Cooper Hefner who serves as Playboy’s chief creative officer said that it was clear to the company that it was time to leave the social network following the Cambridge Analytica matter. Hefner said Playboy had more than 25 million Facebook followers.

That said, the company’s Playboy Radio and Playboy Fragrances fan pages were active as of March 30.

Sonos

On March 26, Sonos announced that it was pulling its advertising from Facebook, as well as Google and Twitter, for the week. Additionally, Sonos said it was going dark on its Facebook and Instagram accounts. Instagram is owned by Facebook.

The move was a direct result of the Cambridge Analytica matter. Sonos, however, isn’t abandoning any of the major tech platforms entirely, as it said they afford easy access to customers, friends and family.

In lieu of purchasing ads, Sonos said it was making a donation to RightsCon a conference dedicated to the discussion of human rights in the digital world.

SpaceX and Tesla

The most high-profile companies to ditch Facebook, SpaceX and Tesla deleted their Facebook pages after Twitter users asked Elon Musk whether he’d leave the social network. Musk replied that he didn’t even realize SpaceX had a Facebook page and that he thought Tesla’s looked “lame.” The accounts were deleted shortly thereafter.

Will Ferrell

The comedian and co-founder of Funny or Die issues a statement through, ironically enough, his Facebook account indicating he was leaving the network on Tuesday. Farrell said he couldn’t in good conscious continue using the platform. He  said the site allowed for the spread of propaganda and that he was deleting his profile 72 hours after his initial announcement.

‘Far Cry 5’ review: Destruction and doomsday in America

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The “Far Cry” series is known for dropping players into huge, open-world settings and letting them sew chaos and destruction as they take on each title’s menacing villain. But those settings and enemies have always been based in largely poor, tropical areas of the world, leading to criticisms of the franchise serving as a tourism simulator gone wrong.

For it’s latest entry, “Far Cry 5,” however, developer Ubisoft Montreal took the tried and true staples of the series — massive, explorable worlds and sandbox-style gameplay — and dropped them in the heart of Big Sky Country: Hope County, Montana.

That change in scenery pays off in a big way for “Far Cry 5,” which is one of the most stunning titles in the franchise to date. It also allowed for the game’s creative team to build a story about a doomsday cult building its own outpost in the middle of the U.S. at a time when the country is dealing with a resurgence in white nationalist hate groups.

But while the narrative initially captures your attention with the charismatic cult leader Joseph Seed, it never truly reaches its potential.

America, the beautiful

It’s impossible to talk about “Far Cry 5” without mentioning just how spectacular its world looks. The team at Ubisoft Montreal built a version of Montana that allows the player to genuinely feel like they’re experiencing the grandeur of the American West. Traversing forests, running through open fields, fishing in streams and exploring small towns are a joy.

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Driving an ATV across a mountain trail reminded me of the summers I spent biking through the woods with my brother, while riding around in a pickup truck on dirt roads and crossing rickety bridges took me back to road trips in the mountains around western Pennsylvania with my family.

The fact that “Far Cry 5” was able to coax such specific emotions from my memories is a testament to how impressive this game looks and plays.

That said, there are occasional pop-in issues, and load times are long even on the PlayStation 4 Pro. I also  wish Ubisoft added more variability to the cultists’ character models. At this point I’ve taken out so many shaggy-haired men wearing white sweaters that I’m starting to think the game is about a cloning experiment gone horribly wrong.

Peggies and preppers

Of course, that’s not the case. “Far Cry 5” revolves around a cult, the ominous-sounding Project at Eden’s Gate, run by David Koresh stand-in Joseph Seed and his siblings John, Jacob and Faith.

At the game’s outset, you, a deputy with the Hope County Sheriff’s Department, another deputy, the county sheriff and a U.S. Marshal try to take Joseph into custody on a warrant. But after slapping the cuffs on him and get him into a waiting chopper, Joseph’s followers manage to take the craft down and rescue their dear leader back.

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After escaping the wreck and evading capture by the cult, you meet up with a prepper named Dutch who helps get you started on your mission to crush the Project at Eden’s Gate cultists, or Peggies, as the townsfolk call them, who have taken over the county.

How does a cult take over a county in modern day America without drawing the attention of, say, the National Guard? By buying off the police, blocking the roads and cutting off all communication to the outside world, that’s how.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but at least the game tries to explain how and why the cult wants to take over. What it doesn’t do, though, is make you feel any kind of emotion for the endless number of cultists you kill.

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It’s a shame, because “Far Cry 5’s” atmosphere and environments seem purpose built to tackle the issues of drug addiction, manipulative leaders and the existential fear Americans seem to feed on. The game’s big bads are interesting, and the side characters are fun to chat with, but the narrative never really takes you anywhere particularly new or insightful. It’s not a bad story, but it hits many of the same notes we’ve seen before.

Leaning on its strengths

Where “Far Cry 5” excels is in the open-world combat that is a hallmark of the series and allows you to tackle virtually any task as you see fit. Need to take down an outpost? Why not sneak up on it and eliminate the enemies with your compound bow? Or, you could lure each enemy away one-by-one and take them out with your bare hands.

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Not destructive enough? You could always go in with guns blazing, or run over every enemy you see with a big rig. Heck, “Far Cry 5” even gives you the chance to pilot WWII planes armed with rockets and bombs, letting you rain destruction down on the Peggies. Sure, the planes’ controls are incredibly simplistic, but nothing is more satisfying than jumping into your plane to down the annoying helicopters and enemy pilots that have been harassing you on the ground for the last two hours.

Further upping the firepower level, is “Far Cry 5’s” new Gun for Hire mechanic that allows you to hire non-player characters to serve as your backup. You can hire everyone from a sniper to a pilot to a very good dog named Boomer to help you pulverize the Peggies. Co-op availability also lets you fight through the game with a friend or friends.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a “Far Cry” game if you didn’t have to capture a seemingly endless number of enemy outposts. But unlike previous series entries you never feel like you’re capturing the same plot of land over and over again. That’s because each outpost has its own unique characteristics whether it be a junkyard or pumpkin farm.

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If you don’t want to spend your time blowing up a small chunk of U.S. soil, though, you can always turn to recreational activities like hunting, fishing or simply taking in the beauty of rural Montana.

Should you get it?

“Far Cry 5” is a fun, downright gorgeous game to play alone or with a friend. The combat is fast-paced and the ability to pilot a plane or helicopter adds new levels of verticality to this insane game world. But while there are plenty of interesting characters ranging from alien-obsessed preppers to townspeople excited for the local Testy Festy, the game’s plot doesn’t quite reach the heights it sets out to.

Fans of the “Far Cry” series should absolutely dive into this entry, while more casual players will have a blast exploring the game’s open world and then blowing it to smithereens. Just don’t expect a particularly moving story.

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What’s hot: Gorgeous environments; chaotic sandbox-style gameplay; fast-paced combat

What’s not: Narrative falls short despite promising setup; enemy characters lack variety

Email Daniel Howley at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

How Apple aims to win its share of the $17.7 billion education market

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Apple’s (AAPL) hardware and software have been a part of the education technology industry for 40 years. The first computer I personally used was a Macintosh in my school’s computer lab. But in recent years, the company has seen its market share in the $17.7 billion sector tumble due to the emergence of Google’s (GOOG,GOOGL) low-cost Chromebooks.

Powered by Google’s Chrome OS and built by companies such as Acer, Dell, HP and Toshiba, Chromebooks now make up 60% of the education tech market. Apple’s iOS and macOS, meanwhile, make up just 17%.

But the iPhone maker isn’t content to lose out on a payday that could be worth as much as $40.9 billion by 2022. To that end Apple released its newest iPad with a beefed up processor and Apple Pencil compatibility aimed directly at the education market. Of course, the slate isn’t just for students and schools, any consumer can buy one like every other iPad.

And at $329, or $299 for students, the new iPad isn’t any cheaper than last year’s model. Where Apple believes it can make a difference, though, is in the software it offers students and teachers, alike.

The company’s Classroom software allows teachers to control their students’ iPads, locking them into specific apps and muting their speakers remotely, while Swift Playground helps kids learn how to code using Apple’s Swift programming language.

Augmented reality is key

Apple’s 1 million iPad apps include a vast array for students, as well, which is an enormous advantage for the company. But where the tech giant can truly set itself apart from Google Chromebooks is by using augmented reality to help teach students about everything from gravity to the internal workings of living creatures.

I got a chance to check out Apple’s new AR software in action during the company’s iPad event at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, and genuinely wish I had similar technologies available when I was in school.

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During one demo at the event, an Apple employee showed how science teachers can use AR to see the layers of a frog’s anatomy as if they were being pulled back in real time all the way from the skin down through the muscle and bones and to the circulatory system.

Adding to the experience was the fact that I could move the iPad closer to the virtual frog to get a closer look at individual organs like its heart to get a more detailed view of how they function.

I then watched as the Apple specialist switched to a virtual table where he dissected a different frog in real-time without having to slice up an actual amphibian. The app was so accurate that when the specialist cut into the frog too hard using the Apple Pencil as a virtual scalpel, he received a warning indicating that he may have damaged the subject’s underlying organs.

In a normal situation, if a student cut too deep into a frog, they’d end up working with a damaged frog, or have to get a new one. But with the iPad, the specialist simply reloaded the app and the frog was back to normal.

During my time at the Chicago event, Apple also showed off how teachers can use the iPad and the company’s Everyone Can Create software to provide students with unique learning experiences and exercises they won’t be able to find on non-Apple devices.

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A lesson on Fibonacci sequences can become more interactive by letting kids create their own movies using Fibonacci poems and iOS’s Clips app. It’s a slick use of technology to help ensure learning new concepts doesn’t feel stale or overwhelming.

Of course, it’s important to note that Apple isn’t simply doing this work out of the goodness of the company’s heart. It stands to gain an enormous amount of revenue from the education technology market. It also makes sense that Apple would want to attract students. After all, by making them familiar with Apple products now, the company has a better chance of turning them into consumers in the future.

Will Apple’s gambit pay off? We’ll have to wait to find out.

New Apple iPad hands-on: The same, but different

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Apple’s (AAPL) newest iPad is here and it’s, well, a lot like the last one. The iPad 9.7-inch, which the tech giant unveiled at a big event at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago is being touted for its usefulness to students and schools, though it’ll also be available for you and me for $329 starting later this week. Students can get the slate for $299.

The new iPad replaces last year’s model, which also started at $329. It is upgraded inside, but retains the same body as its predecessor.

Those internal changes are nothing to sneeze at, though. The iPad now gets the same A10 Fusion chip as the iPad Pro 9.7-inch and iPad Pro 12.3-inch, which means it packs more than enough power for your everyday tasks. Those capabilities come in handy for tasks like augmented reality and coding, both of which I demoed following Apple’s keynote.

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The iPad still feels incredibly light and apps were buttery smooth. Of course, that’s to be expected with the A10 Fusion processor. It’s also a solid selling point for the tablet, which Apple is positioning as a more powerful and capable alternative to Google’s (GOOG,GOOGL) Chromebooks, which now hold a 60% market share in the education technology market, according to Futuresource Consulting.

Apple also added support for its Apple Pencil stylus to the new iPad, a first for a non-Pro model. The Pencil works just as well as it does on the slate as it does on the existing iPad Pro, and offers the same tilt functionality and pressure sensing capabilities.

The stylus, which costs $99, or $89 for students, is certainly a powerful tool, but I can’t help but wonder how many students will lose their Pencils during the course of the school year.

Outside of its processor and stylus support, the iPad features a 9.7-inch Retina display, 8-megapixel rear camera and HD FaceTime camera up front. It’s certainly an impressive competitor to Google’s Chromebooks, but there’s one catch when it comes to the slate: it doesn’t include a keyboard.

For many schools that won’t be a dealbreaker, especially since the iPad, and its thousands of apps, offer more functionality than most Chromebooks. But if your pupils are going to be typing a lot, the lack of a keyboard could be off putting.

The new iPad is available for pre-order today and will hit store shelves later this week.

Apple introduces new $329 iPad to win back the education market

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Apple Inc. (AAPL) on Tuesday announced its latest iPads with the intention of taking back the student market, which Google (GOOG,GOOGL) has been dominating with its low-cost Chromebooks. The tech giant’s latest slate, the new $329 iPad 9.7-inch, is an update to Apple’s base iPad, which was released in March 2017 and also cost $329.

Apple says it will sell the iPad for $299 for students and schools as it does with the current generation iPad.

Available for pre-order starting today, the  slate looks similar to the existing iPad, but includes support for the Apple Pencil stylus, something that was previously only available with the company’s more expensive iPad Pro models. Inside, the iPad gets a more powerful A10 Fusion chip, which is the same processor found in the iPad Pro.

Taking on the Chromebook

Of course, Apple couldn’t help but take a shot at Google’s Chromebooks, saying that the A10 chip makes the iPad more powerful than virtually all Chromebooks on the market.

Apple also touted the iPad’s augmented reality capabilities in the classroom, something that Chromebooks can’t quite handle. In a demo, Apple showed apps that allow students to virtually dissect frogs and experience famous works of art up close and personal.

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Apple’s Vice President of Product Marketing Greg Joswiak went so far as the claim that the new iPad is the greatest device ever created for students in the classroom. That’s a big hint at how much Apple wants to take the market back from Google’s Chromebooks.

In addition to its new iPad, Apple has introduced updated versions of its iWork apps. The new versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote will now support the Apple Pencil, allowing you to draw directly on apps. They are also adding a smart annotation feature that lets you annotate documents directly in Pages.

Apple’s iPad business has seen a slight uptick in the past few quarters thanks to the company’s decision to sell the base iPad at a reduced price of $329 and the introduction of its iPad Pros. In the first quarter of 2018, Apple reported selling 13.2 million iPad units, which was up 1%. It’s not an enormous increase, but it’s far better than the years of declining sales the company previously saw in the category.

The fight for the classroom

But Apple has been losing market share in the coveted U.S. education space to Google and its low-cost, internet-connected Chromebooks. The devices, which are designed specifically for running online apps like Google’s Chrome browser and Google Docs and Drive, and more recently Android apps, have quickly become the go-to technology tools for school districts across the country.

According to industry analysis group Futuresource Consulting, Google’s Chromebooks captured as much as 60% of the education market in the third quarter of 2017. Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows held 22% of the market, while Apple’s MacOS and iOS controlled roughly 17%.

In 2017, Microsoft launched its own laptop geared toward students, dubbed the Surface Laptop, along with a special version of Windows 10 built for the classroom called Windows 10 S, which only allowed for the installation of apps through the Microsoft-curated Windows Store. The company has since changed Windows 10 S to a Windows 10 mode rather than a separate version of the operating system.

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The Surface Laptop, however, starts at $699, while Chromebooks are sold for as little as $179.

Apple, meanwhile, currently offers its MacBook Air for $999, which is out of reach for many school districts and students. The current-generation iPad, on the other hand, starts at $329, which is far more affordable.

Beyond taking a larger share of the education technology market, which research firm Frost & Sullivan estimates generated $17.7 billion in revenue in 2017 and will reach $40.9 billion by 2022, Apple’s decision to focus on the space is simple marketing. If you get more students and teachers using your products, you’re helping to build loyalty with new customers.

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Of course, it’s not as if Apple hasn’t been a part of the education market for decades already. I remember playing “Oregon Trail” on the Macintosh computers in my elementary school computer lab in the 1990s. Over time, though, Macintosh machines fell out of favor with school districts and more and more began using Windows-based computers. Apple saw an uptick in the education market when its iPads came out, but Chromebooks have ruled the roost as of late.

Apple’s hope is that it can turn the tide and take over the industry once more.

Why your iPhone isn’t ringing and how to fix it

Do your friends and family constantly complain that you never answer their phone calls? Are you actively trying to avoid them? Well, if that’s the case, then this video isn’t for you. But if you do want to keep in touch with your loved ones but can’t figure out why your phone isn’t ringing when they call, I’ve got a quick tip that should solve your problem.

If you’re using Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, there’s a good chance that you accidentally turned on its Do Not Disturb feature. When you do this, you automatically silence any calls you’d normally get and send them to your voicemail.

I’ve known more than a few people who have had this issue, including someone who’s probably watching this and turning red at the moment: Sorry Mom.

To turn off Do Not Disturb on the iPhone 6s, 7 or 8, simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen to pull up the Control Center. If you’ve got an iPhone X, you’ll need to swipe down from the top right corner of the display.

If Do Not Disturb is active, the crescent moon icon will be lit up white and the moon icon will look blue. You’ll also see a moon icon in the top right corner of the Home screen. To turn Do Not Disturb off, simply tap the icon and you should see a message at the top of the screen that reads “Do Not Disturb: Off.”

If Do Not Disturb is already off, your phone’s ringer might be silenced. To turn it back on you can flip the switch on the left side of your phone just above the volume buttons. If the switch has a red indicator showing, the ringer is being silenced. Move the switch to the off position and then turn up the volume on your phone to increase the sound of the ringer.

Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on who’s calling.

Zuckerberg press event [shell]

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Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his first public statements on Wednesday following revelations that the profile information of 50 million users was used without their knowledge or consent as part of a targeted advertising campaign to elect Donald Trump.

But instead of speaking to the press, or even hosting a Facebook Live video, as he has done in the past, Zuckerberg posted a message to his official Facebook account. In it, the CEO laid out the timeline for how users’ profile data fell into the hands of the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica, which created the ads for Trump.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”

Facebook’s latest scandal kicked off on March 17 when The New York Times published a piece revealing how theCambridge Analytica captured the profile information of 50 million Americans without their consent to create targeted advertisements aimed at ensuring Donald Trump won the 2016 election.

Cambridge Analytica obtained that user data through Aleksander Kogan, a lecturer at Cambridge University, who originally received it from Facebook via a personality test app connected to the Facebook Platform, a tool that allowed third-party apps to connect to users’ profiles and then snake their way through the profiles of those users’ friends without asking their consent. That capability has since be turned off.

Instead, of using that profile data for the personality test, though, Kogan shared it with Cambridge Analytica, which then used it to craft political ads for the Trump campaign.

“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook,” Zuckerberg said in his statement. “But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that.”

If the initial reports that Facebook had known that its users’ profile data was taken at least as far back as 2016 without coming forward wasn’t bad enough, the company then tried to deflect, saying that the matter wasn’t a data breach, but a third-party abusing their access to user profiles. And while that fact is true, no usernames or passwords were stolen, it didn’t do much to ease investors’ or advertisers’ concerns, or address the public’s trust in the social network.

Despite the growing controversy, neither Zuckerberg nor COO Sheryl Sandberg, the two faces of the company, offered any public statements on the issue until Zuckerberg’s message today. The only information from the social network came via its initial release about Cambridge Analytica and posts from lower level executives.

In his statement, Zuckerberg said his company would take three steps in preventing a similar issue from happening again. The first, he explained, was to audit all companies that had previously used the Facebook Platform prior to the company’s decision to limit access to users’ profiles to ensure there are no other such abuses. The CEO then said the company will further restrict access to users’ profile data beyond its current measures and provide a notice to all users about what apps are currently accessing their profiles.

Zuckerberg’s announcement is unlikely to quell calls for him or Sandberg to appear before Congress or British Parliament regarding the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. It’s also no likely to make investors or advertisers already wary of the recent scandal feel any more at ease.

The Cambridge Analytica matter follows the firestorm of criticism leveled at Facebook and other social media sites over the spread of fake news and advertisements on their platforms, some of which was created by Russian political interests seeking to disrupt the 2016 election. In the midst of that, Facebook and its cohort, which include Reddit, Twitter and YouTube, were repeatedly chastised for allowing so-called Alt-Right, Neo Nazis and other hate groups to freely post hate speech on their sites.

More recently, such sites have taken heat for allowing conspiracy theories about the Parkland High School shooting to circulate alongside factual news articles.

As part of his annual New Year’s statement, Zuckerberg pledged to improve Facebook by tackling issues like fake news and prevent foreign interests from using the social network to influence U.S. elections.

Unfortunately, it seems, the company and its CEO still have a long way to go before they get there.