Feed aggregator

The Latest Firefox update gives MacBook Pro users a new reason to ditch Safari

Techradar - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 04:57

The latest version of the Firefox web browser is rolling out for users on macOS and Windows, bringing some minor but welcome quality-of-life improvements – including 120Hz refresh rate support.

Now, those of you who are using the best web browsers out there on a laptop like the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), or have a monitor that has a VRR of 120Hz or more, can experience smoother scrolling while exploring the web.

The 120Hz Firefox update means pages will look less blurry as you scroll them, letting you more easily skim through content to find the nugget of information or link that you’re after.

Finding what you need in PDFs is also getting easier. Firefox will now automatically highlight parts of a PDF that you need to fill in, making it easier to complete your digital documents.

MacBook Pro 16-inch on wooden table in modern office

Firefox now looks way better on the 120Hz screen of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) (Image credit: Future)

There are also a few new accessibility upgrades. When using picture-in-picture to watch a subtitled video you can change the size of the font from within the video’s window directly, making it much easier to shrink or enlarge the text. A few new sites now support picture-in-picture subtitles including Funimation and Dailymotion.

If you want to make all the text in Firefox bigger, Windows’ 'Make text bigger' setting now changes the size of all text in the browser, rather than just system font sizes. It’ll also be easier to open up Firefox on Microsoft’s OS, as the browser will now be pinned to the taskbar during installation on Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Last but not least, you can finally use your keyboard to access the Tabs toolbar. Just use Ctrl/Cmd+L to reach the address bar, then Tab and Shift+Tab to move between the toolbar’s groups of buttons. Once you’ve found the right group the left and right arrow keys will let you move through individual buttons in that group.

Looking for other ways to improve Firefox? Check out our picks for the best Firefox VPN extensions of 2022

3 Senate Hopefuls Denounce Big Tech. They Also Have Deep Ties to It.

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 22:29
Blake Masters, J.D. Vance and Mehmet Oz, all Republicans, have a history with the industry that involves uses of consumer data they now criticize.

F.T.C. Sues to Block Meta’s Virtual Reality Deal as It Confronts Big Tech

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 21:42
The move is a potential blow to Meta’s metaverse efforts and signals a shift in how the Federal Trade Commission is approaching tech deals.

Senate Passes $280 Billion Industrial Policy Bill to Counter China

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 20:08
The bipartisan vote reflected a rare consensus in the otherwise polarized Congress in favor of investing federal resources into a broad industrial policy to counter China.

Doug Mastriano Faces Criticism Over His Backing From Antisemitic Ally

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 19:32
The founder of Gab, a far-right social media network, recently made bigoted remarks defending his ties with Mr. Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania.

Meta Reports First Revenue Decline and 36 Percent Profit Drop

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 17:30
It was the first time the social media giant’s revenue had fallen since it went public a decade ago, as it confronts increased regulatory scrutiny and a turbulent economy.

iOS 16 beta reveals your iPhone won't actually hide your message edits

Techradar - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 16:00

Apple's vision of user-controlled messaging is coming into focus and maybe iMessage unsend and editing don't work quite as we expected.

On Wednesday, the iPhone maker finally dropped the long-awaited iOS 16 Developer Beta 4, which includes updates to Messages and Mail that offer a better understanding of how its new communications controls will and won't work. The newest release arrives a few weeks after Apple's first iOS 16 public beta.

On the Message front, retrieval and editing of sent messages are looking a lot more like they did when Apple announced the feature -- and iOS 16 as a whole -- at its WWDC developers' conference in June. But the company is also adding some nuances that weren't entirely obvious back then.

Messages can be edited for up to 15 minutes after you send them. On the recipient side, they see a log of your changes. This means they see both the original message and the new one, prefaced by "Edited to." Editing messages in iOS 16 is not changing history. The record of your original words remains.

There is also a limit to the number of edits you can make. You've got five. If you need more, then consider deleting the message.

As far as the message unsend function goes, the window is much smaller. You have two minutes to rethink your words. But unsend is unreliable in the current beta, and words might not disappear from the phones of those who aren't running one of the iOS 16 betas.

Mail recalled

Tools for controlling your mail mishaps are also coming together. iOS 16 Developer Beta 3 had an Undo Send preference setting that let you set it for off or for 10, 20, or 30 seconds. Gmail offers a similar 30-second unsend window.

That's a half minute to reconsider your missive and pull it back. The Undo Send appears in that timeframe at the bottom of the email screen and, with the clock ticking, it can be pretty easy to miss. 30 seconds go by pretty fast, after all. 

There's more

Other updates in this build include the ability for developers to build Live Activities through a new API. These activity windows can live on the new Lock Screen and show you, for instance, live scores from your favorite sports teams.

Early availability of the new tool would normally mean developers can have their Live Activities ready for iOS 16 when it launches in, we expect, September. However, an update on Apple's Developer page, reminds developers that "Live Activities and ActivityKit won’t be included in the initial public release of iOS 16." Developers will have more time to build out these widgets and submit them for App Store approval before Live Activities launches later this year.

All these developer updates should make their way to the next iOS 16 public beta update whenever that arrives.

If you're thinking about getting a new iPhone to support iOS 16, you should read our best iPhones roundup.

Senior European Parliament Member Targeted as Spyware Abuse Spreads

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 14:01
The attempted hack of a Greek opposition leader is the first aimed at a European Parliament member to be detected, but he has plenty of company among politicians, journalists and dissidents.

So Much Tech. So Few Winners.

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 11:18
Technology is everything. Why are there hardly any blockbuster tech companies of the smartphone age?

Microsoft 365 update could get you using your Office apps in a totally different way

Techradar - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 11:16

Some of the most popular Microsoft 365 tools are set to get a lot more interactive thanks to a new update targeting voice dictation.

Several new entries in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap have outlined how the company is working on improvements to the Office Dictation tool, which allows users to dictate documents, emails and more using their voice.

It seems the service is set for a welcome upgrade, with an updated design, new visuals and improved functionalities due to arrive to make dictation a more integral part of your working life.

Microsoft 365 voice dictation

The upgraded Office Dictation tool will be appearing first in Word and Outlook, both of which get separate entries on the product roadmap.

"The Office dictation toolbar has been redesigned to showcase new visuals, responsive UI, and a smaller design to stay out of the way of what matters - your content!" the description for the new upgrade reads, without going into much exact detail.

However, this should mean a service which is more intelligent and easier to use, hopefully allowing users a better way to dictate emails and Word documents or reminders when on the go.

The update is listed as being "in development", but has a listed general availability date of July 2022, suggesting it should roll out soon.

When it does launch, Microsoft says the feature will be available to Office users on Desktop, Web and Mac, across the world.

Read more

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The news is the latest step forward for improved dictation in Microsoft Office, which has been a major focus for the company for some time.

Back in February 2021, Microsoft announced Word and Outlook would be getting major improvements, including a profanity filter and automatic punctuation.

This was followed later in the year by a major expansion of the platform to include a wider variety of languages on its Microsoft Dictate service, and then in a separate announcement that allowed Outlook users to dictate email messages as well as calendar appointment and meeting content.

Google Calendar will now always tell your team exactly where you're working

Techradar - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 09:24

A new Google Workspace update will make it harder for you or your co-workers to hide from your office meetings.

The company has announced it is allowing users to set their working location on Google Calendar by default, rather than having to enable the feature manually.

The move will let users of the calendar app show colleagues whether they're at home or in the office, making it easier to know if someone is around for a face-to-face meeting, or having to endure another video conferencing call. 

Working from home

The feature was first announced back in August 2021 as part of a move to help the growth of hybrid working following the pandemic.

However, users were often left confused as showing whether you were working at home or in the office displayed on Google Calendar as an all-day event, cluttering up people's schedules.

This was fixed in a May 2022 update that introduced a "more compact format" that sits at the top of your daily schedule, distinctly different from meeting invites and other events in your calendar.

Until now, this feature had been toggled off by default, meaning end users had to make sure their company admins had activated it. 

The change is rolling out now, and will be available to Google Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Fundamentals, Education Standard, Education Plus, the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and Nonprofits, as well as legacy G Suite Business customers.

However Google Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, Enterprise Essentials, and Frontline, as well as legacy G Suite Basic customers, won't get access, nor will users with personal Google Accounts.

Read more

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Google Calendar update will prevent disastrous scheduling mishaps

This Google Calendar update gives your co-workers nowhere to hide

Recently, Google Calendar was also upgraded to show a range of status options in Google Chat, giving you extra information on what you or your co-workers are up to. Previously limited to just showing when someone was out of office, Google Chat is now able to show a number of different statuses, including "in a meeting" or "in focus time".

Google Calendar also recently received a "Focus time" feature, where users can block out periods of time where they can avoid meetings and get their heads down for actual work.

Setting such a marker in your Google Calendar will also allow users to automatically decline meetings, meaning no last-minute rush to finish off work.

The latest Google Maps update immerses you in tourist hotspots

Techradar - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 05:26

Google has finally rolled out the immersive Google Maps views it promised back in May, along with a few other helpful features for cyclists, and travelers in groups.

First announced at the Google I/O 2022 developer conference, immersive views will combine Google Map’s Street View, satellite, and aerial images to create 3D recreations of landmarks. This first iteration of the feature is currently incomplete, but still supports over 100 locations across major cities including London, San Francisco and Tokyo.

Eventually, the feature will go beyond traditional landmarks, and will be used to bring to life local hotspots like restaurants, to give potential tourists a better feel of the place they’re looking to visit. 

This comes as Google is trying to fight back against apps like TikTok and Instagram, which have become the most popular tools for young people looking to discover new places, ahead of Google’s services.

With Instagram itself capitalizing on this trend with its own searchable maps feature, we’ll have to see whether Google Maps’ immersive views and other future features will be enough to win back lost users.

Two phones showing Google Maps Immersive View

Two phones showing Google Maps Immersive View (Image credit: Google) Improved bike navigation

Google Maps is also getting better navigation tools for cyclists. While Maps has offered bike navigation for a long time now, this update aims to make it more like its car navigation, giving cyclists more information about their route.

Specifically, it means that cyclists will be able to see if their route is impacted by car traffic, as well as if the route includes bike lanes, how steep or windy a route is, and what kind of roads they’ll be riding on. Users can use this information to choose alternative paths; in some cases, Google Maps will offer riders multiple possible routes other than the fastest, including a path with more bike lanes, or one that requires fewer turns.

(Image credit: Google) Location-sharing upgrades

Google is also upgrading location sharing. Now, in addition to sharing your location, you can ping notifications to a friend to let them know you’re leaving one location, and automatically send another when you arrive at your destination. The app will also be better at warning you that you’ve left the feature turned on if you didn’t set a time limit when you started sharing your location.

If you think location sharing and the other updates are neat features, here are a few other hidden Google Maps tools that you might not know about.

Alphabet profit falls once again, despite major revenue growth

Techradar - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 05:14

Google’s parent company has reported a drop-off in profit for a second consecutive quarter, despite a handsome rise in revenue.

As per the latest earnings report, Alphabet brought in a profit of circa $16 billion in Q2 2022, down from $18.5 billion for the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, total revenue for the quarter rose by 12.6% year-on-year to reach $69.7 billion.

The reason for this disparity appears to be a combination of rising sales and marketing costs and an increase in research and development spend, which cost the company an additional $3 billion last quarter. Google also spent more heavily on M&A activity and took a $2.1 billion hit from deferred income tax payments.

Alphabet results

As ever, the largest portion of Alphabet revenue stemmed from its digital advertising business, with the “Google Search and other” segment alone responsible for $40.7 billion in revenue for Q2.

The total ad revenue figure was supplemented by $7.3 billion generated by YouTube advertising and $8.3 billion from programs like Google Adsense, whereby publishers and website owners host display ads on their own properties.

Although Google’s cloud services business - which covers both Google Cloud products and Workspace productivity software - remains highly unprofitable (losing $858 million for the quarter), the division racked up $6.2 billion in sales, marking an increase of more than a third over 2021.

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“In the second quarter our performance was driven by Search and Cloud,” said Sundar Pichai, Alphabet and Google CEO. “The investments we’ve made over the years in AI and computing are helping to make our services particularly valuable for consumers, and highly effective for businesses of all sizes.”

“As we sharpen our focus, we’ll continue to invest responsibly in deep computer science for the long-term.”

However, although total revenue figures were up-and-to-the-right across practically all business segments, Alphabet recorded its slowest sales growth in two years, perhaps signalling trouble ahead for companies in the digital advertising sector as businesses cut back on spending.

The Default Tech Settings You Should Turn Off Right Away

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 04:00
These controls, which are buried inside products from Apple, Google, Meta and others, make us share more data than we need to.

Why Does the Prison-Life Content on TikTok Feel So Familiar?

NYT Technology - Wed, 07/27/2022 - 04:00
Cooking, life advice, bored dancing, workout tips — on social media, you’re reminded that incarceration is a pretty common slice of American life.

Windows 10 22H2 could save you from the tyranny of Windows 11

Techradar - Tue, 07/26/2022 - 23:00

More evidence has emerged that Windows 10 will be getting a major update, known as 22H2, and that’s great news for people who would want to stick with the older operating system, rather than upgrade to Windows 11.

As Windows Latest reports, references to Windows 10 22H2 have been spotted in a recent update, KB5015684. This update is currently with Windows Insiders, who are testing it before it gets rolled out to everyone using Windows 10. 

One eagle-eyed Insider noticed that the operating system version has changed from 21H2, to 22H2. This naming convention is used by Microsoft for major operating updates that bring new features and security fixes. While this could mean some exciting changes for Windows 10, we’d also urge caution.

Windows Latest installed the update, and despite the version number changing to 22H2, it appears this is a minor update with only a few behind-the-scenes changes.

It seems like Windows 10 22H2 will also be released in a new “enablement package” format, which means parts of it will be installed ahead of time, so the overall installation process when the update launches should be very quick.

Despite it apparently not bringing any major changes, the Windows 10 22H2 update will still be worth installing, as it’ll at least contain important bug fixes and security updates.

Analysis: Windows 10 isn’t dead yet 

Windows 10

(Image credit: Future)

The revelation that Windows 10 is getting a 22H2 is good news for anyone who doesn’t want to upgrade to Windows 11, or anyone who simply can’t, due to the newer operating system’s rather complex system requirements.

Despite Microsoft pushing people to upgrade to the new OS, and with hype building for Windows 11 22H2, which is shaping up to be a major update that brings a lot of new features – many of which people have been clamoring for – it’s good to see that Windows 10 isn’t being forgotten about.

This is especially true as rumors swirl around the possibility of Microsoft launching Windows 12 as soon as 2024. Microsoft has promised to continue to support Windows 10 until its "end of life" on October 14, 2025, and it looks like it’s sticking to its word.

Microsoft Reports Earnings That Fall Short of Already-Reduced Expectations

NYT Technology - Tue, 07/26/2022 - 16:18
The tech giant cited the strong U.S. dollar, falling consumer demand and production slowdowns of PCs for its performance.

Facebook wants to kill the leap second - a scoundrel messing with our lives

Techradar - Tue, 07/26/2022 - 15:14

Until today, I bet you never heard of leap seconds -- seconds, not years. Ever since 1972, we've been occasionally adding a second to our global clock to account for variations in the speed of the earth's rotation. As it slows down, we add a second. So far, we've added 27.

You might think this has no impact on you (or be thrilled that you've got an extra second free), but if you remember being unable to access Reddit in 2012 or dozens of Cloudflare-supported websites that went offline in 2017, then you've stared into the cold, hard face of a leap second.

Meta, a company not necessarily known for always having our best interests at heart, is, it turns out, no fan of leap seconds. Meta wants to do away with them, and made its case this week in an extensive blog post on the topic.

This isn't personal, Meta says (though it might be a little self-serving): The company's global network faces the same challenges as all others when it comes to this seemingly harmless extra tick-tock of the clock. Successful implementation of a leap second, which causes a one-second stutter of the world clock to add that extra beat, is a precise synchronization of a global dance troupe that hasn't been taught all the steps.

a global dance troupe that hasn't been taught all the steps

If, as is often the case, all systems aren't handling the change in the same way or communicating it in a timely, split-second fashion, systems like those described above - systems you rely on - crash.

To be clear, leap seconds are not a yearly or guaranteed occurrence. They've happened just over half the years we've had the system in place, but they can occur with unpredictable regularity, and the disruption can be incalculably bad.

Learning about leap seconds is disorienting in the way that learning about Y2K was in the late 1990s. Up until that moment, we'd been enjoying a digital spring, almost twenty years with home PCs, and decades more with business and mainframe computers making our everyday lives better and more productive. Then someone noticed that no one had programmed most systems for the changeover that would happen when the date turned from 1999 to 2000. We were told that the Internet and a multitude of other systems could just collapse. Businesses and banks would fall, and there'd be global panic.

Everyone freaked out a little ... until developers and engineers like the ones working at Meta today recognized the risk and started working to adjust. By the time January 1, 2000, rolled around, the feared armageddon was a virtual no-show.

We prepared. And thus we survived.

The existence of the leap second probably isn't as dire a situation - probably. It has, though, that "butterfly beating its wings in Houston and starting a tsunami in Taipei" potential. As Meta notes, "As an industry, we bump into problems whenever a leap second is introduced. And because it’s such a rare event, it devastates the community every time it happens."

You didn't know about the leap second until now, but it might make sense to acknowledge it and, now, support its demise.

Still using a tablet for work? Google Workspace has some good news for you

Techradar - Tue, 07/26/2022 - 15:05

Google Workspace has unveiled a much-needed upgrade to some of its most popular software tools aimed at making them easier to use and experience on larger-screen mobile devices.

The updates will cover Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Keep on Android, and look to address several key pain points seen by users with larger-screen Android smartphones or business tablets.

With more of us now working flexibly and across multiple devices, Google hopes that the updates will bring improved usability and less frustration for workers everywhere.

Google Workspace on tablets

The new features include the ability to drag and drop files from one Google Workspace app to another to improve the links between different services.

For example, users can now drag a table from a Google Sheets form directly into a Google Docs document on the same display, ending fiddly copy-and-paste functions, or drag a Google Drive file into a new Keep note.

Google Workspace drag and drop from Sheets to Docs

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

Mobile and tablet devices will also see much-improved keyboard support for Drive, Docs and Sheets, making it much easier to use your device when on the move. Google says all your favorite shortcuts will be available, making it a lot smoother to use a keyboard when on a train or bus, for example.

Google Drive multi-instance windows open

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

Finally, Google Drive users can get a clearer view of their files by having two windows open side-by-side at the same time, allowing them the chance to view video or photos without having to juggle multiple overlapping windows.

Read more

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"As part of our mission to provide a top-class user experience on large screen devices, we’re adding several new features and functionality," the official Google Workspace Updates blog post noted.

"We hope these updates enhance flexibility by giving you more ways to work with, display and organize your content across Google Workspace."

The new features are rolling out now to users across the world, and will be available to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers, along with users who have personal Google Accounts.

Instagram, facing criticism from Kylie Jenner and others, tries explaining itself.

NYT Technology - Tue, 07/26/2022 - 15:01
Meta is meeting backlash for changes that make some of its platforms act more like TikTok.