Waymo CEO John Krafcik wins ‘Disruptor of the Year’ Shift Award, for autonomous minivan, from CNET Roadshow

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On Tuesday, to honor the tech that has become essential to innovation in the auto industry, CNET Roadshow presented the Shift Awards at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Presented by Tim Stevens, editor-in-chief of Roadshow, and Brian Cooley, editor at CNET, the awards recognize “the greatest progressive technology in the industry,” said Stevens.

The 3D-printed awards, in the shape of a car shifter, were selected by the CNET Roadshow team and covered five categories. Here they are:

1. Driveline technology of the year

This award looks at the tech between the engine and the wheels that helps the car seamlessly navigate the roads. Contenders for the 2017 award were: BMW proactive drive assistant, Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid, and Chevy Bolt EV, powered with tech from LG. Winner? The Chevy Bolt EV.

SEE: Watch Roadshow’s awards and interviews from the 2017 Detroit Auto Show right here (Roadshow)

2. Safety technology of the year

This award goes to advanced tech that works to make things like driver assist and autonomous driving possible. Contenders were: Audi’s laser headlight tech, Audi traffic light information system, and Cadillac’s rear camera mirror. Winner: Audi traffic light information system.

3. Cabin technology of the year

The cabin tech award looks inside the car for the latest tech. Contenders were Ford Sync 3, Android Auto for phones, and Chrysler Pacifica Uconnect theater, which won the award. This system provides a platform for entertainment and education for kids, with the ability to display things like math flashcards.

4. Disruptor of the year

This award goes to the team of individuals that have made the biggest impact on the auto industry. The winner for 2017? Waymo CEO John Krafcik. Waymo is Google’s self-driving project spinoff that has produced the world’s first driverless minivan.

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The vehicle of the year considered three contenders: BMW’s M2, Chevy’s Bolt EV, and the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. The Chevy Bolt EV was the winner.

(Here’s a look at who won Roadshow’s Shift Awards in 2016.)

From a tech perspective, Roadshow’s disruptor award is a signal of innovation.

“Krafcik is one of the biggest leaders when it comes to pushing forward the testing and regulations of autonomous vehicles in the US,” said Stevens. “He’s worked really closely with the US DOT to redefine regulations around autonomous vehicles, and Waymo is one of the most progressive companies for testing autonomous vehicles.”

“Waymo has done so much to move forward the mindset around regulation and a realistic vision about how self-driving cars will become mainstream, and they also are focused on driving down the cost of the technology that has to go into autonomous cars,” Cooley added. “They are creating a revolution, not being a carmaker in and of themselves.”

SEE: CNET Roadshow’s full coverage of the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS)

Google’s approach, said Cooley, shows that the key to autonomy is “about understanding how the cars relate to your goals each day, and how cars relate to each other.”

“Waymo’s plans are finally becoming clearer as the company has pulled together a complete package for autonomy,” said Michael Ramsey, autonomous vehicle analyst at Gartner Research. “The revenue for the business could be substantial if they license both the software controlling driverless cars and the hardware sensor suite that makes it function.”

“Waymo is years ahead of the competition,” Ramsey added.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. CNET’s Shift Awards consider five categories in driving. 2017 winners included the Chevy Bolt EV, Chrysler Pacifica Uconnect theater, Audi traffic light information system, and John Krafcik.
  2. Waymo CEO John Krafcik won CNET Roadshow’s “disruption” award at 2017 NAIAS. Waymo is the Google self-driving project spinoff that produced the world’s first driverless minivan in collaboration with Chrysler.
  3. Waymo has developed the AI platform and in-house LiDAR that makes its autonomous tech one of the best systems today, and it is poised to drive down the cost of the technology by 90%.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik wins ‘Disruptor of the Year’ Shift Award, for autonomous minivan, from Roadshow by CNET

cars-3.jpg

On Tuesday, to honor the tech that has become essential to innovation in the auto industry, CNET Roadshow presented the Shift Awards at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Presented by Tim Stevens, editor-in-chief of Roadshow, and Brian Cooley, editor at CNET, the awards recognize “the greatest progressive technology in the industry,” said Stevens.

The 3D-printed awards, in the shape of a car shifter, were selected by the CNET Roadshow team and covered five categories. Here they are:

1. Driveline technology of the year

This award looks at the tech between the engine and the wheels that helps the car seamlessly navigate the roads. Contenders for the 2017 award were: BMW proactive drive assistant, Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid, and Chevy Bolt EV, powered with tech from LG. Winner? The Chevy Bolt EV.

SEE: Watch Roadshow’s awards and interviews from the 2017 Detroit Auto Show right here (Roadshow)

2. Safety technology of the year

This award goes to advanced tech that works to make things like driver assist and autonomous driving possible. Contenders were: Audi’s laser headlight tech, Audi traffic light information system, and Cadillac’s rear camera mirror. Winner: Audi traffic light information system.

3. Cabin technology of the year

The cabin tech award looks inside the car for the latest tech. Contenders were Ford Sync 3, Android Auto for phones, and Chrysler Pacifica Uconnect theater, which won the award. This system provides a platform for entertainment and education for kids, with the ability to display things like math flashcards.

4. Disruptor of the year

This award goes to the team of individuals that have made the biggest impact on the auto industry. The winner for 2017? Waymo CEO John Krafcik. Waymo is Google’s self-driving project spinoff that has produced the world’s first driverless minivan.

car-4.jpgcar-4.jpg

The vehicle of the year considered three contenders: BMW’s M2, Chevy’s Bolt EV, and the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. The Chevy Bolt EV was the winner.

(Here’s a look at who won Roadshow’s Shift Awards in 2016.)

From a tech perspective, Roadshow’s disruptor award is a signal of innovation.

“Krafcik is one of the biggest leaders when it comes to pushing forward the testing and regulations of autonomous vehicles in the US,” said Stevens. “He’s worked really closely with the US DOT to redefine regulations around autonomous vehicles, and Waymo is one of the most progressive companies for testing autonomous vehicles.”

“Waymo has done so much to move forward the mindset around regulation and a realistic vision about how self-driving cars will become mainstream, and they also are focused on driving down the cost of the technology that has to go into autonomous cars,” Cooley added. “They are creating a revolution, not being a carmaker in and of themselves.”

SEE: CNET Roadshow’s full coverage of the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS)

Google’s approach, said Cooley, shows that the key to autonomy is “about understanding how the cars relate to your goals each day, and how cars relate to each other.”

“Waymo’s plans are finally becoming clearer as the company has pulled together a complete package for autonomy,” said Michael Ramsey, autonomous vehicle analyst at Gartner Research. “The revenue for the business could be substantial if they license both the software controlling driverless cars and the hardware sensor suite that makes it function.”

“Waymo is years ahead of the competition,” Ramsey added.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. CNET’s Shift Awards consider five categories in driving. 2017 winners included the Chevy Bolt EV, Chrysler Pacifica Uconnect theater, Audi traffic light information system, and John Krafcik.
  2. Waymo CEO John Krafcik won CNET Roadshow’s “disruption” award at 2017 NAIAS. Waymo is the Google self-driving project spinoff that produced the world’s first driverless minivan in collaboration with Chrysler.
  3. Waymo has developed the AI platform and in-house LiDAR that makes its autonomous tech one of the best systems today, and it is poised to drive down the cost of the technology by 90%.

The weaponized personal network of things could be on your doorstep before you know it

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Networked cameras watch your children sleep. Remote sensors monitor your movement. Tiny microphones listen to your personal, intimate conversations. In the near future almost every home will be a smart home, presenting new opportunities, markets, and benefits for companies and consumers. But according to cybersecurity experts, the connected home is also an easily weaponized home.

The Internet of Things—networked gadgets that gather data and provide useful feedback, such as baby monitors, refrigerators, fitness trackers, and personal assistants like Amazon’s Echo—is a rapidly growing market. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) alone is expected to $151 billion by 2020 and could be eclipsed by the Personal Internet of Things (PIoT), said Carson Sweet, CTO and cofounder of security firm CloudPassage.

“Thanks to cloud tech, all your personal devices are more connected than ever,” Sweet explained. “Your mobile phone syncs with your personal computers and tablets; your home automation systems integrate with your mobile phone; your automobile has a web portal and a phone app… It’s IoT at the personal level, and it generates enormous amounts of information about where you go, what you buy, who you associate with. And this information has never been more integrated, correlated, and accessible than ever before. And most people don’t even know what data is being collected, generated, or synthesized about them.”

SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)

Home automation and personal IoT devices provide tremendous benefit to consumers and companies but also “present a tiny but significant mini-enterprise to attackers,” Sweet said, because home devices will never be as well maintained as corporate devices.

“We’re not doing a killer job at [protecting corporate devices] to begin with… personal devices are very vulnerable simply based on the discovery of vulnerabilities in software coupled with poor maintenance. [For example], do you know what your Kindle’s patch level is? Your refrigerator? Your smart TV? Your thermostat?”

Sweet is concerned that IoT devices are particularly vulnerable to being compromised and “drafted into a zombie army, meaning they become part of a massive [botnet] attack network like the one dubbed Mirai that recently took down multiple internet sites in a huge, sustained distributed denial of service attack.”

Vulnerable personal devices are not new, Sweet said, but in 2017 expect to see gigabit home internet driving many new attacks. “Already available to 50 million consumers, gigabit connectivity as a hot attacker focus will truly explode if vulnerabilities in popular home devices can be exploited mechanically,” he said. “Keep in mind that the massive DDoS attacks that we saw from the Mirai botnet were based on seeking and exploiting vulnerabilities in long-forgotten devices [such as] IP cameras and recorders.”

SEE: “Internet of Things” poses consumer risks (CBS News)

The home and IoT devices become weaponized, Sweet said, when a threat actor like a hacker delivers an exploit to a popular personal device, then writes code to iterate and spread the malware rapidly. “The development of ‘point-and-shoot’ exploit tools is the essence of weaponization of vulnerabilities. The recent version of the Mirai botnet, for example, weaponizes severe vulnerabilities in IP cameras and DVRs by using worm behavior. An infected device immediately starts seeking other devices to affect. This chain reaction creates force multiplication that converts a seemingly simple vulnerability into something that can be used for a variety of highly impactful, nefarious purposes.”

Large-scale personal IoT exploits can also be used to “whale phish,” or target wealthy and powerful individuals without the target’s knowledge. Home IoT devices are a significant threat because “the amount and sensitivity of data offered by by personal IoT devices is far greater than what can be gleaned from social media.” This data can be used to exploit or blackmail CEOs, corporate decision-makers, politicians, and other public officials, Sweet said.

There is no one-fix quick solution, Sweet said. But he advised that device makers can improve security by settling on software and firmware standards and implementing patch protocols that quickly fix bugs. Encrypting data can also help mitigate risk. But as access to the private information of citizens and corporations becomes easier for hackers, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies, Sweet warned data insecurity trends will continue. “I would expect to see… attempts at policies that compel commercial technology providers to give up data without disclosure of requests or releases. I would also expect to see more aggressive attempts by U.S. agencies to gain access to foreign nationals’ data resident in the systems of U.S. based technology providers.”

Quick tips for using FaceTime to make video and audio calls

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FaceTime is an Apple-provided service for iOS and macOS users that allows for peer-to-peer video and audio communication with no setup requirements and no need to memorize the username of the person you’d like to chat with. Everything is built right into the operating system, so there’s no additional apps to download, install, and set up. The FaceTime service is free—even when calling internationally, since FaceTime calls are routed through the internet.

SEE: Skype adds real-time translation; Slack launches video calls (TechRepublic)

Caveats to using FaceTime audio and video

  • Some cellular providers block or limit access to FaceTime audio and/or video over cellular data.
  • You must be connecting to a user that has an iOS or macOS device; Windows and Android users won’t be able to make or receive FaceTime calls.
  • FaceTime audio and video is only for 1-to-1 calls and cannot do conference calls with multiple callers.

FaceTime works on these devices

  • iPhone 4 or later
  • iPad 2 or later
  • iPad mini (all models)
  • iPod touch (4th generation and later for video calls; 5th generation and later for audio calls)

Setting up FaceTime

It’s super simple to set up FaceTime—you just need to logged into your iCloud account, and then follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Open the FaceTime settings.
  3. Follow the login flow to sign in with your Apple ID.

Once you’ve signed in with your Apple ID, the iPhone that you are using will have its phone number registered with the FaceTime service, and you will be able to make and receive FaceTime audio and video calls at that number (Figure A).

Figure A

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Using FaceTime video

Let’s take a look at the two possible options for starting a FaceTime video call: via Siri or in Contacts.

Starting a FaceTime call with Siri

Siri is one of the easiest ways to use FaceTime to make a new video call. Activate Siri by pressing the Home button and saying “FaceTime [x]”—x is the name of the person in your Contacts list you’d like to call, or it’s a phone number of an iOS user. After a few seconds, Siri will dial the user on FaceTime video.

Starting a FaceTime call in Contacts

The Contacts app is also an easy place to start a FaceTime call. If you’re already browsing your Contacts, open a card for a particular contact. If the contact has a FaceTime-compatible device registered for their email address or phone number, you’ll see a FaceTime section (Figure B). Select the video camera button to begin a FaceTime call with the contact. This will open the FaceTime interface and dial the user.

Figure B

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Using FaceTime audio

FaceTime audio works in a similar fashion to FaceTime video calling. To start a call, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Contact app on your device.
  2. Browse to a contact card that has a FaceTime-enabled device.
  3. In the FaceTime section, tap the Phone button (see above in Figure B next to the video calling button).

In addition, you can initiate a FaceTime audio call through Siri by saying “FaceTime Audio [x]”—x is the name of a person in your contacts or a phone number of the person you’d like to initiate a FaceTime audio call with.

SEE: FaceTime creator details its history, including code name (CNET)

Tips and tricks for using FaceTime

How to use call waiting with FaceTime audio

Starting with iOS 9.3 and later, call waiting can be used during a FaceTime audio call. When another call comes in—whether it’s another FaceTime audio call or a cellular phone call—you have three options:

  1. You can end the current call and accept the incoming call.
  2. You can accept the incoming call and put the current call on hold.
  3. You can decline the incoming call and continue the current call.

All of these options will be presented in the in-call interface when the new call comes in.

How to block unwanted callers

If you frequently get unwanted callers on your FaceTime audio or video email address or cellular phone number, you might want to block those callers. For specifics, read our guide on blocking numbers in iOS.

How to start a FaceTime call in a phone call

If you are already in a cellular call with a FaceTime user, a FaceTime button will appear in the in-call interface (Figure C). If you want to initiate a FaceTime call, tap this button and iOS will seamlessly transition the audio-only cellular call into a FaceTime video call and will stop the cellular call. The call from this point on will be using the data on your cellular plan or your Wi-Fi, and will no longer use minutes on your account.

Figure C

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Yahoo changes name to Altaba Inc. after Verizon acquisition

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Yahoo no more: As Verizon takes over the company’s core internet business, the investment side of Yahoo will change its name to Altaba Inc., according to a regulatory filing released this week.

With the Verizon closing, Altaba’s board will be reduced to five directors: Tor Braham, Eric Brandt, Catherine Friedman, Thomas McInerney and Jeffrey Smith. Brandt will also serve as chairman of the board. That means six Yahoo directors will be leaving, including CEO Marissa Mayer. However, Mayer said she plans to stay with the company after the acquisition.

Altaba still holds assets with Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Yahoo Japan. The name Altaba is a combination of the words “alternate” and “Alibaba,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Verizon announced its purchase of Yahoo for $4.83 billion in July 2016. “The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company, and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising,” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO, in a press release at the time.

SEE: 2017 cybercrime trends: Expect a fresh wave of ransomware and IoT hacks

Mayer clarified in the press release that the sale of Yahoo’s operating business effectively separated the company’s Asian asset equity stakes to “unlock shareholder value for Yahoo.”

“This transaction also sets up a great opportunity for Yahoo to build further distribution and accelerate our work in mobile, video, native advertising and social,” Mayer said at the time.

However, the acquisition was put in jeopardy after news of two large Yahoo data breaches came to light. In September 2016, Yahoo announced that a 2014 hack had led 500 million accounts to be compromised, including names, email addresses, and passwords. And in December, Yahoo revealed that data from more than one billion user accounts (on top of the original 500 million) had been stolen in 2013.

The regulatory filing states that Verizon may terminate or renegotiate the purchase agreement based on the “security incidents.”

In a December 2016 poll of TechRepublic readers asking “Is the Yahoo hack the final straw?” and questioning the state of the Verizon deal, 47% of respondents answered “Yes, and the hack will also nuke the Verizon deal.” Meanwhile, 28% said “The hack will kill the Verizon deal, but Yahoo will survive,” and 25% said “No, Yahoo will survive and be sold to Verizon.”

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. This week, Verizon announced that as its $4.8 billion purchase of Yahoo closes, the investment portion of the company will be renamed Altaba.
  2. With the Verizon acquisition, Altaba’s board of directors will be reduced from 11 members to six, with CEO Marissa Mayer stepping down from the board.
  3. The Verizon deal could still be terminated or renegotiated due to Yahoo’s two major data breaches announced last year, which compromised the data of 1.5 billion Yahoo users.

The future of the auto industry ‘depends on partners,’ says Nissan CEO

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At the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn talked about Nissan’s approach to the future of transportation, outlining four key areas that must be addressed by automakers: Electric cars, self-driving cars, autonomy, and applications.

As an automaker with the largest industry plant in the US, located in Tennessee, and with 10% market share, Nissan is poised to have a big impact by addressing these key points in driving innovation. And its forthcoming Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) brings something new to the autonomous driving conversation, as well: Human operators.

Announced by Ghosn at CES 2017, SAM will match up an AI platform with a human who can manage the drive from a call center. It’s kind of like what happens at a traffic control center, in order to regain control of the car when it ends up in a complex driving situation or an accident—and every time the human takes control, the AI system becomes smarter.

Using Visual Environment for Remote Virtual Exploration (VERVE) software, SAM takes advantage of Nissan’s collaboration with NASA. At CES 2017, Nissan also announced that it will begin testing autonomous cars with DeNA, a company in Japan.

SEE: ‘AI as co-pilot’: The state of autonomous driving, from the auto world’s headquarters in Detroit (TechRepublic)

At NAIAS, Ghosn stressed the importance of partnerships. “The story of 2017 will be business disruption, and the future depends on how well we interact with partners. We must work alongside startups, tech companies, and government regulators,” he said. “These types of partnerships will be critical.”

Additionally, customer needs and concerns are of the utmost importance, Ghosn said. Self-driving cars must be attractive, comfortable, and, above all, safe. In terms of self-driving tech, Ghosn says it that moving it to mass consumers will take four years. But much of this timeline depends on the readiness of customers and regulators, on top of tech advances. “When do customers want it?” he asked.

It is also important to distinguish that autonomous transportation, said Ghosn, is when the driver decides when to drive—”it is not completely driverless.”

SEE: CNET Roadshow’s full coverage of the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS)

Still, there are some hurdles that must be passed before reaching full autonomy.

“There is a lot of work to do between today and a vehicle that is truly safe to operate in urban environments with no human test engineer,” said Michael Ramsey, autonomous vehicle analyst at Gartner Research. “This is demonstrated by Nissan’s news. It plans on incorporating a sort of traffic control engineer to get these cars out of sticky situations.”

Ramsey also wonders if this kind of control center will make financial sense.

And Alexander Wyglinski, associate professor in engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, pointed out that Ghosn did not address connected vehicles, which he sees as “one of those core technologies that would facilitate reliable and safer self-driving cars in the future by giving them beyond-line-of-sight situational awareness on the road.” In fact, the US DOT recently proposed a mandate for V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) connectivity, which it said would go a long way in making roads safer.

Why GM’s year-old, millennial-focused rideshare Maven is already oversubscribed

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At the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, one theme is clear: The transportation industry is undergoing a radical shift.

Instead of single-person ownership, automakers like Ford, GM, and Tesla, as well as tech companies like Uber and Lyft, see their future in “mobility”—often, in the form of rideshares.

GM has made a special investment in mobility in its purchase of startup Maven—a service in which people can find and book a car through an app. At NAIAS, the head of Maven, Julia Styn, talked about this critical development for GM, and why it’s been so successful.

Maven provides on-demand cars—every model from a Bolt to a Corvette to an Escalade—to drivers via an app. It is a response to urban growth and the need for mobility as a service, Styn said. It’s meant to develop a new customer base for GM, so it is geared towards millennials—many of whom don’t hold the same ideas, or have the same means, of auto ownership as the previous generations. Seventy-eight percent of Maven users are millennials, she said, and the average age of a Maven user is 30. And Maven is built on a single premise: People trust people. So it relies on influencers, Styn said.

SEE: ‘AI as co-pilot’: The state of autonomous driving, from the auto world’s headquarters in Detroit (TechRepublic)

The business model follows a simple format, allowing people to access a vehicle via a phone alone—without “burdens” like membership fees or cards, access to parking, or insurance. “We provide fun without friction,” Styn said. Additionally, Maven is intended to cater to millennials by “bringing digital life inside the car,” via 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, and through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps. Maven also assures 24/7 customer service with the push of a button.

There are three branches to the startup: Maven Home, Maven City, and Maven Business. When it first got off the ground, Maven was available only to select residents who lived in exclusive car-sharing communities in Manhattan and Ann Arbor via Maven Home. There are currently 8,000 Maven Home users. It’s been extended to “city” and “business” users as well. For Maven Business users, Styn said, the service is available in 12 cities, with an average of 34 days needed for a reservation. After being launched, it was quickly oversubscribed.

SEE: CNET Roadshow’s full coverage of the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS)

One big advantage of Maven Business, Styn said, is people who drive for Uber and Lyft can use it—without having to own a vehicle, which removes the overall cost of driving in wear and tear to the car and gas. In October 2016, GM and Uber announced a partnership, allowing Uber drivers to rent cars via Maven for $179 a week.

Microsoft may have reinvented the PC but is that enough to guarantee Windows 10’s future?

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Windows may not be as crucial to Microsoft as it once was, but in some ways the future of the company is still bound to the PC.

That close relationship is something of a millstone around Microsoft’s neck, given the PC market has shrunk 25% over the past five years, according to estimates from analyst house Gartner.

With a vested interest in stimulating this moribund PC market, Microsoft has in recent years begun designing its own computers, from the laptop/tablet hybrid, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, through to the designer-focused Microsoft Surface Studio.

While these machines haven’t set PC sales alight, their influence was evident in the latest Windows 10 PCs and associated hardware on show at CES. From the Surface Pro-inspired Lenovo MiiX 720 to the Surface Studio-flavored Dell Canvas, the impact of Microsoft’s PC range was plain to see.

SEE: CES 2017 Special Coverage (CNET) | CES 2017 (TechRepublic) | CES 2017: The Big Trends for Business (ZDNet)

This copycat behavior by computer makers is exactly what Microsoft had hoped to inspire, said Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst with Gartner.

“This has been Microsoft’s aim all along. They needed to show the market the way forward in terms of design and functionality and any competitive designs are welcome,” he said, adding that Microsoft’s primary concern is to drive adoption of Windows 10.

Ovum’s principal research analyst Richard Edwards said after the failure of the ARM-based Surface RT tablet Microsoft had gone on to develop “an impressive stable of devices, including Surface Pro, Surface Hub, Surface Book, and Surface Studio. And let’s not forget that HoloLens is also waiting in the wings”.

Chrystelle Labesque, European director for personal computing devices at analyt IDC, believes the Surface Pro effectively created a new category of PC device, which has since been picked up by other hardware manufacturers.

“This idea of a Windows-based device that can be a tablet as well as notebook, what IDC qualifies as detachable, was first regarded as niche and it was difficult to convince end users,” she said.

“Today, with the fourth generation [Surface Pro], there’s no debate. Microsoft has established the category and all other major vendors offer similar designs.”

SEE: CES 2017: Microsoft is poised to take advantage of the next tech trend… whatever it is

According to Ovum’s Edwards, as a software and services-focused company, it makes sense for Microsoft to let hardware manufacturers mass-produce these new systems.

“Having put its considerable R&D resources to good use, Microsoft is now looking to its OEM partners to drive broad market adoption and scale. Microsoft clearly wants its OEM partners to take inspiration from its designs and to go one better.”

That chimes with the message from Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, Chris Capossela, who told ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley that Microsoft wanted to create new categories of devices that can be built by its OEM partners.

However, regardless of Microsoft’s successes, the firm is still grappling with the broader shift away from Windows PCs and towards using mobile computing devices, even as PCs have got more portable, easier to use and enjoy longer battery life.

“The end user computing market is no longer dominated by the Windows PC, and Surface-inspired designs aren’t going to change that,” Ovum’s Edwards said.

“The hybrid tablet Surface/Surface Pro and convertible laptop Surface Book were undoubtedly developed by Microsoft in reaction to the success of the iPad and the threat posed by the Google Chromebook.”

Perhaps the greatest challenge to Windows’ continued relevance is the smartphone. About 1.89 billion phones will be shipped between 2016 and 2019, according to Gartner, dwarfing the 268 million PC shipments expected during the same period.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, despite repeated efforts to crack the mobile market, pretty much nobody uses Windows on their phone, with Microsoft’s OS dwarfed by widespread adoption of Android.

It remains to be seen whether Microsoft’s promise to bring the full Windows desktop and apps to smartphones or whether the forthcoming Surface Phone will give the OS a much-needed foothold in the mobile market. But ultimately cracking mobile may prove more important to Windows’ future than reinventing the PC.

49% of businesses fell victim to cyber ransom attacks in 2016

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Nearly half of businesses report that they were the subject of a cyber-ransom campaign in 2016, according to Radware’s Global Application and Network Security Report 2016-2017.

Data loss topped the list of IT professionals’ cyber attack concerns, the report found, with 27% of tech leaders reporting this as their greatest worry. It was followed by service outage (19%), reputation loss (16%), and customer or partner loss (9%).

Malware or bot attacks hit half of all organizations surveyed in the last year. One reason for the pervasive attacks? The Internet of Things (IoT). Some 55% of respondents reported that IoT ecosystems had complicated their cybersecurity detection measures, as they create more vulnerabilities.

Ransomware attacks in particular continue to increase rapidly: 41% of respondents reported that ransom was the top motivator behind the cyber attacks they experienced in 2016. Meanwhile, 27% of respondents cited insider threats, 26% said political hacktivism, and 26% said competition.

SEE: HR managers beware: Ransomware could be your next job applicant

While large-scale DDoS attacks dominated the headlines of 2016, this report found that only 4% of all attacks were more than 50 Gbps, while more than 83% of DDoS attacks reported were under 1 Gbps.

“One thing is clear: Money is the top motivator in the threat landscape today,” said Carl Herberger, vice president of security solutions at Radware, in a press release. “Attackers employ an ever-increasing number of tactics to steal valuable information, from ransom attacks that can lock up a company’s data, to DDoS attacks that act as a smoke screen for information theft, to direct brute force or injection attacks that grant direct access to internal data.”

Despite the growth in attacks, some 40% of organizations reported that they do not have an incident response plan in place, the survey found.

The report listed five cybersecurity predictions for 2017:

1. IoT will become an even larger risk. The Mirai IoT Botnet code is available to the public, making it more likely that cyber criminals of all experience levels are already strengthening their capabilities. “In 2017, exponentially more devices are expected to become targeted and enslaved into IoT botnets,” the press release stated. “IoT device manufacturers will have to face the issue of securing their devices before they are brought to market, as botnet attacks from these devices can generate large-scale attacks that easily exceed 1 Tbps.”

2. Ransomware attacks will continue to grow. These attacks will target phones, laptops, and company computers, and will likely take aim at healthcare devices such as defibrillators in the future, the press release stated.

3. Permanent Denial of Service (PDoS) attacks on data centers and IoT operations will rise. PDoS attacks, sometimes called “phlashing,” damage a system to the degree that it requires hardware replacement or reinstallation. These attacks are not new, but Radware predicts they are likely to become more pervasive in 2017 with the plethora of personal devices on the market.

4. Telephony DoS (TDoS) will become more sophisticated. These attacks, which cut off communications in a crisis, “could impede first responders’ situational awareness, exacerbate suffering and pain, and potentially increase loss of life,” the press release stated.

5. Public transportation system attacks will rise. As cars, trains, and planes become more automated, they also become more vulnerable to hackers, Radware stated.

You help your business avoid ransomware attacks and other cyber threats by keeping software up to date, backing up all information every day to a secure, offsite location, segmenting your network, performing penetration testing, and training staff on cyber security practices.

iOS keyboard: Tips and tricks for using its coolest features

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It’s hard to believe it has been almost 10 years that the iPhone revolutionized the digital touch screen experience, and an on-screen keyboard was placed inside iOS as the main input method. As crazy as this sounded at the time (it was criticized by many people), it has become a staple of modern mobile devices.

Here’s a look at how to use various features of the iOS keyboard—from predictions and shortcuts to something new in iOS 8+ called Trackpad Mode that makes it easier to edit text.

SEE: iOS 10 and the enterprise (Tech Pro Research)

AutoCorrect

Apple introduced a modern version of AutoCorrect to the masses with the original iPhone. It was substantially better than anything like it at the time it was introduced; and yet, for years, it was the butt of many jokes.

This feature has gotten better over the years, and it is enabled on all shipping iPhones with iOS 10. You’ve probably seen this feature in action when typing something that was misspelled—a small bubble will appear, allowing you to press the Space key to accept the suggested correction, or press the small “x” in the bubble to dismiss the suggestion and keep typing (Figure A).

Figure A



AutoCorrect can be enabled or disabled in Settings. To disable the feature, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to General | Keyboard.
  3. Disable the option for Auto-Correction.

Let’s say you like using the feature and have it enabled, but you notice it’s suggesting words that aren’t words. Most likely what happened is the misspelled words were accepted into the dictionary by the user tapping on the close button to dismiss the suggestion (iOS will learn words used often and will add them to the dictionary regardless of spelling).

To fix this issue, perform these steps.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to General | Reset.
  3. Select the option for Reset Keyboard Dictionary.

Shortcuts

If you repeatedly type the same sentences over and over on your iPhone, you’ll want to look at keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts let you type in a simple, easy to remember set of characters that you choose, and AutoCorrect will automatically replace those characters with your longer sentence, statement, or words.

Setting up your shortcuts is easy in Settings.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select General | Keyboard | Text Replacement to view the keyboard shortcuts that have already been created (Figure B).
  3. Click the + button to add a new shortcut.

Figure B



When you wish to use a shortcut, simply typing the shortcut using the keyboard will present an AutoCorrect option for the extended phrase. Press the Space key to accept the phrase and continue typing, or press the “x” inside of the AutoCorrect bubble to dismiss the shortcut without inserting.

Trackpad mode

Introduced in iOS 8 for the iPad, this feature came to the iPhone with 3D Touch in iOS 9. Using iOS, you’ve probably come across the loupe that appears whenever you press and hold on a typed text block inside of an app—this feature allows you to reposition the cursor for typing without obstructing the text that your finger is currently on top of. With trackpad mode, repositioning the cursor has gotten much easier.

On an iPhone that has 3D Touch, you can 3D Touch on one of the keyboard keys while typing—the key lettering will fade away, and allow you to roll your finger across the entire keyboard. While you are doing this, the cursor moves on the screen, similar to a trackpad on a Mac, letting you easily reposition the cursor. Simply release your finger when you’re done repositioning.

On an iPad, it’s a little different: Tap two fingers on two of the keys and continue to hold, and then move your fingers across the keyboard to reposition the cursor inside the text block you’re editing. Release your fingers when you’re done repositioning.

Attaching an external keyboard

If you do a lot of typing, you might wish to connect a keyboard to your iOS device to sustain long typing sessions. If this is the case, there are a few options for you to choose from.

For an iPhone, there’s mainly one method: You can connect a Bluetooth keyboard from within Settings | Bluetooth, and use the keyboard inside any apps that supports typing with the on-screen keyboard.

For an iPad, you have three options for connecting a keyboard: (1) You can use a Bluetooth keyboard like the iPhone method above; (2) if you have the iPad Lightning to USB adapter, you can also plug in a USB keyboard; and (3) there are first- and third-party case manufacturers that make keyboard cases (hard wired or Bluetooth) for iPads.