Essential's PH-1 strives to be more than just another Android phone

The first thing anyone will notice about the PH-1 is its 5.7-inch screen, or, more accurately, how it stretches almost completely over the phone’s face. Other phones, like Xiaomi’s Mi Mix “concept,” might technically have smaller bezels, but I doubt most people would care; there’s something sumptuous and even a little thrilling about a phone that’s basically all screen. It sometimes looks as if someone cut an actual photo down to these weirdo dimensions and plopped it onto a titanium slab where the screen would go. Still, it’s not perfect: There are brighter displays out there, and colors look slightly washed out compared with AMOLED panels.

The notch cut out of the top for the 8-megapixel camera is a little peculiar too. The important thing to note is that it never really gets in the way, thanks to how Android fills up the notification bar from the sides in. Not every app takes full advantage of this unique screen, though. The phone dialer and Chrome, not to mention popular services like Twitter and Spotify, look like typical, boxy apps that don’t spill across to the phone’s top edge. It’s definitely a bummer to get the full-screen effect only sometimes, and it’s not clear what kind of work, if any, developers will have to do to ensure compatibility. Given how young Essential is (just 18 months old), I wonder how many app developers would even take the time.

Essential's PH-1 strives to be more than just another Android phone

Beyond the screen, the PH-1 is a dense slab of a smartphone. And I mean it when I say “slab” — not only is it reassuringly weighty, but it lies totally flat on a table no matter which side is facing up. This was a very deliberate design choice, and after years of using phones that curve at least somewhat to fit my hand, it took a little getting used to. The company also assured me that the phone’s boxy ceramic-and-titanium build can take a lot of punishment, and it feels almost impeccably sturdy, but who could blame me for being concerned? Xiaomi’s Mi Mix was also made of ceramic, but that didn’t mean its screen was impervious to damage.

Oh, I should also point out that the glossy black model I received picked up fingerprints faster than almost any other phone I’ve tested recently. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the PH-1 was sucking my greasy fingerprints off from across the room.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/18/essential-ph-1-hands-on-preview/

Lowe’s Iris smart home system can connect to your Nest thermostat

Like Apple’s Homekit system, Iris aims to connect all your smart devices with one interface. Lowe’s system uses a Smart Hub that now will work to control a third-generation Nest from anywhere. You can change the temperature or mode of your Nest via the Iris mobile app, add it to a Scene to control several smart devices at once, and even have the thermostat respond to specific temperature or humidity rules already in Iris. The company promises even more integration with Nest over time, as well.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/16/lowe-s-iris-smart-home-system-can-connect-to-your-nest-thermosta/

DOJ demands info on 1.3M visitors to protest-organizing website

According to Dreamhost, that personal info includes “contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people.” That could easily lead the DOJ to identify anyone who used the site in service of exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights of free speech, the website host pointed out.

After questioning the warrant’s extreme volume of info requested, the DOJ fired back with a motion (PDF) asking the DC Superior Court to compel the host to comply. Dreamhost’s counsel filed legal arguments in opposition (PDF), and will attend a court hearing about the matter in Washington, DC on August 18th.

It’s not the first time authorities have tried to pry information from internet companies on users that attended anti-Trump protests. DC law enforcement requested information from Facebook on a subscriber who attended an inauguration day protest — and they wanted that person’s addresses, phone numbers and online session details. Moreover, a gag order prevented the social titan from informing up to three users who had been so targeted, but Facebook has been appealing that decision in court.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/14/doj-demands-info-1million-visitors-protest-organizing-website/

The Morning After: Weekend Edition


Reset the clock.SoundCloud isn’t shutting down just yet

After a crucial vote, SoundCloud secured $170 million in funding and will continue to operate. Going forward it has a new CEO, Kerry Trainor (formerly of Vimeo), as former CEO and founder Alex Ljung takes the position of chairman. Said Ljung, “This financing means SoundCloud remains strong, independent and here to stay. As I said, we’re not going anywhere.”


Say goodbye to spark plugsMazda says it’s nailed the compression-ignition gasoline engine.

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

While Mazda marches forward with its electric-car ideas, it’s not giving up on the gasoline engine. In fact, it’s made a major breakthrough this week that most of the major carmakers have been chasing: compression-ignition. Why should you care? Because it could offer major increases to fuel mileage. See? You should care.


Keep practicing.‘Dota 2’ will add two new heroes in the Dueling Fates update

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

On the next-to-last night of its The International tournament, Valve announced two new characters are coming to DotA 2. We got a brief look at both in a teaser trailer, although we haven’t actually seen them in-game or even learned their names yet.


No $50 box required.Steam Link puts PC games on Samsung smart TVs

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

You can now play Steam games on your Samsung 2016 or 2017 smart TVs without having to worry about beta bugs and performance issues. The Steam Link app for the chaebol’s latest smart TV models is now out of beta and available for download from the Smart Hub app store. In addition to the app’s launch, Steam has also officially announced that Link is compatible with Xbox 360 wired and wireless, Xbox One wired and Logitech F510/F710 controllers in addition to its own gamepad.


Even the tread is custom printed.Michelin’s 3D-printed tire is as stunning as it is futuristic

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

The Vision is both a wheel and airless tire all-in-one.


Software updates could be an issue.The ISS is getting a ruggedized computer upgrade

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

When SpaceX’s rocket takes off on August 14th, it will be carrying the “Spaceborne Computer,” a machine that could make things a lot easier for future deep space missions. It’s a high-performance Linux system that NASA and HP Enterprise have outfitted for use in space. Instead of upgrading the hardware, however, they used software to help it deal with radiation and other issues. We’ll find out how well they work out once it’s done with this year-long trial run.

But wait, there’s more…

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/12/the-morning-after-weekend-edition/

MalwareTech’s arrest shows hacking is still a dangerous game

It has been like this for decades, and it’s a hell of a way to live. I’m guessing no one understands this more than a UK-based hacker named Marcus Hutchins, also known online and in press as “MalwareTech.” Hutchins never wanted anyone to know his name; he was just the guy who noticed that the eejits behind WannaCry forgot to register a domain that acted as a “kill switch” on the nasty, fast-spreading ransomware. He then spent the next few days helping people get out from under a ransom scheme that had hospitals locked up (threatening lives).

Hutchins wanted to keep his identity secret, he told press, because he was fearful of the retaliations he might face for shutting down WannaCry. To his own outrage and dismay, his name and personal details were discovered and published by UK tabloids The Sun, The Daily Mail, and The Mirror. The man hailed as the “NHS hero” tweeted, “I always thought I’d be doxed by skids (people in hacking forums), but turns out Journalists are 100x better at doxing.”

If that was a rude awakening to Hutchins, then what came next was surely a shock to the system from which he may never recover. In July and early August, he was in the US to attend the Black Hat and DEF CON security conferences — a week-plus junket of hacking and security events, trainings, talks, and parties where it’s more or less a given that those working in the field are required to attend.

MalwareTech's arrest shows hacking is still a dangerous game

As Hutchins boarded the plane to fly home to the UK last Wednesday afternoon, he was arrested and detained in Las Vegas along with another researcher. He was taken to a detention center and then moved to an FBI field office. US prosecutors slapped Hutchins with a grand jury indictment, alleging that between July 2014 and July 2015 he helped make and distribute the Kronos banking trojan.

“Defendant MARCUS HUTCHINS created the Kronos malware,” the indictment states.

Hutchins was temporarily cut off from the outside world while he was held; there was a period of about a day in which he could not be reached. He didn’t have a lawyer for 48 hours. His friends and family panicked. Infosec Twitter lost its mind (and would continue to for quite some time, and for some very good reasons, which we’ll get to in a minute). Attorneys who represent hackers were on it like lightning finds the unlucky kid on a golf course during a storm. While Hutchins settled into a Las Vegas jail for the weekend, his friends rallied to pull together an online donation page for legal funds.

In a bizarre coincidence, the same day of Hutchins’ arrest, the Bitcoin wallet holding WannaCry’s ransomware funds was emptied.

As the federal indictment document hit the internet, the world learned that the 23-year-old researcher is facing six counts and up to 40 years for allegedly creating, spreading, and maintaining Kronos. The banking trojan is as nasty as it is clever.

According to ThreatPost, Kronos harvested banking credentials using “Web injects made for every major browser to modify legitimate banking websites.” Then when you log in to your bank, “the web injects look for additional information from the victim, details that are generally not required upon log-in such as ATM PINs or personal information to help with security questions.” Kronos came with a built-in security system that fights off other trojans, as well as updates for those who purchased and ran the trojan — it was a black market product with a price tag of $2K (at the time-period the indictment covers).

To be clear: We have no idea if Hutchins actually has anything to do with Kronos or not. Hutchins denies wrongdoing and is pleading not guilty. Monday he was out on bail and scheduled for transfer to a Milwaukee, Wisconsin courtroom to face charges early Tuesday morning; that appearance has been postponed until August 14th (next Monday).

Hutchins is not allowed to use the internet, his passport has been confiscated, and his movements are tracked. According to researcher and friend of Hutchins, Kevin Beaumont, “He is not allowed to communicate with the co-defendant named in the case. That name is blacked out on the indictment. Neither Marcus’ lawyer nor Marcus know who the co-defendant is.”

When the public found out Hutchins had been nabbed by the FBI, saying that press and infosec had lost its collective mind in several directions would’ve been an understatement. Part of that had to do with the shock and implications of the case and its situation. Though part of the hysteria could’ve been attributed to the fact that very little actual news came out of this year’s two big domestic hacking conferences, which mainstream and corporate press had thrown more money and people at than ever before.

Quantity over quality in coverage in cybersecurity journalism is the worst it’s been, Def Con is a magnifier, and Hutchins once again just happened to be the ant under their looking glass. Every reporter in the world wrote a story on it. Some of them were baseless character attacks, because clickbait is, as clickbait does, I guess.

None of which helped anything that was going on in the infosec world. Many rallied to support and defend Hutchins with legal fundraising and letters to the judge. Those letters countering impressions left by press of Hutchins’ guilt, while those close to the situation published information crucial to anyone following the case, showing a situation far less black and white. Even Orin Kerr explored the question in the Washington Post asking, The Kronos indictment: Is it a crime to create and sell malware?

Unfortunately, online infosec and press chatter also erupted into ugly infighting, limelight-chasing, and posturing. Hutchins’ online life has been combed over and picked apart by people with good intentions, simple curiosity, as well as those seeking negative attention.

The case has shaken up security research communities — and for a lot of good reasons. People who write, reverse, and research malware are scared and angry. Some are proudly proclaiming they write code and are unafraid of sudden arrest, others comment, I do too, and I’m afraid. Again. Because it’s easy to say “my code can be used for anything outside my control, good and bad” it’s just as easy for authorities to condemn you on the same principles.

MalwareTech's arrest shows hacking is still a dangerous game

What happens with Hutchins will be watched closely by everyone. It’s going to set serious precedents for vulnerability research, and affect the lives of everyone who writes and reverses malware, in and out of the US.

US attorney Tor Ekeland told press that regardless, what has happened with Hutchins created shockwaves that destabilize relationship-building between the US government and hackers. “There are major implications for cyber security,” he said. “By doing this they’ve made the internet less safe because nobody in their right mind is likely to help the US Government stop attacks now.”

There is a chilling effect here that will leave its mark on every researcher. Commenter Doctor Syntax accurately summarized the vibe saying, “The one bit of solid evidence that’s emerged seems to be that he wrote an explanatory post about some code which was then sent to a Github repository and subsequently incorporated in the trojan. If that’s what the FBI mean by writing malware then I’m sure a lot of people who’ve published code on Github … answered questions on Stackexchange, and the like should avoid visiting the US.”

Infosec is thinking about all of this right now. They’re thinking about how fragile their lives are, and just how much is out of their control, no matter how hard they fight for understanding and legitimacy. They’re also thinking that a trip to DEF CON can end with being abducted by the FBI, cut off from the world, and facing the end of their lives as free people — with no warning, and for crimes they may not have done.

It’s a shadow that can consume you if you’re not careful.

Images: Roberto Baldwin / Engadget (Def Con); Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Marcus Hutchins)

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/11/malwaretechs-arrest-shows-hacking-is-still-a-dangerous-game/

Fidelity lets clients view their bitcoin balance on its site

Fidelity held a trial with its own employees first before launching this initiative. The company’s CEO Abigail Johnson has repeatedly affirmed her belief in cryptocurrencies, and previously claimed that even the Fidelity cafeteria accepts bitcoins. But it’s also an attempt to glean more info on how clients keep cryptocurrencies behave.

“This is an experiment in the spirit of learning what these crypto assets are like and how our customers may want to interact with them,” Hadley Stern, senior vice president and managing director at Fidelity Labs, told Reuters in an interview.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/10/fidelity-lets-clients-view-their-bitcoin-balance-on-its-site/

Anchor’s app turns your podcasts into social videos

Podcasts might be enjoying a resurgence, but they’re not exactly designed for social networks. Are your friends really going to notice the link to your latest episode when there’s a cute cat video beckoning? Anchor might have a way to capture their attention. It’s updating its Android and iOS podcasting apps with an option that turns your recordings into easily shared videos. The software automatically transcribes your dialog (you can fix any hiccups, of course) and exports it a slick-looking clip that fits the format of your choice. If you want to get the word out through Instagram, you can have a square-shaped video ready within moments.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/08/anchors-app-turns-your-podcasts-into-social-videos/

Watch NYT’s immersive stories on Samsung Gear VR

Immersive stories on the refugee crisis and Nasa’s New Horizons Spacecraft are a taster of the types of video you can expect to find on the app. And, you’ll be able to catch the daily panoramic vids from reporters armed with Samsung’s Gear 360 camera. The app’s library is also set to expand this year, with the addition of four feature films.

The NYT VR app has thus far nabbed 1.2 million downloads. It now faces some competition as more media broadcasters experiment with the format. Since 2016, the likes of ABC, USA Today, and HuffPost (which, like us, is owned by Verizon) have all dabbled in VR. Aside from the Oculus Store, you can find the NYT VR app on Google Play for Android and Daydream, and in the iOS App Store.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/04/nyt-vr-app-samsung-gear/

Microsoft’s minimal Modern mouse and keyboard are now available

As part of Windows 10, Hello can unlock your PC with your fingerprint or face, though you’d need a compatible camera for the latter. It works with the new keyboard, so you’ll be able to swipe your finger to access to your machine. It hooks up to your PC with either Bluetooth or a cable, giving you some flexibility of connection. The Modern Mouse matches the keyboard in styling and connects via Low Energy Bluetooth, too. Microsoft claims the keyboard has up to four months of use on a full charge; the mouse should last up to 12 months per charge, as well.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/07/28/microsoft-modern-mouse-keyboard-now-available/

Hulu is the new home of old TGIF sitcoms

Hulu’s recent spurt of iconic comedy show grabs makes sense. Pretty much everyone is busy reviving eighties and nineties sitcoms right now. Roseanne, Will and Grace, and Living Single are just a few of the shows that are currently in the works. Clearly, nostalgia is still all the rage. But instead of reboots, Hulu is hoping viewers will seek out the originals. After all, where better to get an instant fix of a classic series than on a streaming service. That way, you don’t have to wait for a syndicated rerun of your fave show. Notably, Hulu seems to have got one back on Netflix by nabbing Full House, which was revived by its streaming rival as Fuller House last year.

Like Netflix, Hulu too hasn’t forgotten about its originals. On Thursday, it announced it’s renewing its drama Harlots for a second season, set to drop in 2018. It’s also working on an as-yet untitled documentary about popular toy doll, Barbie, which will also land the same year.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/07/28/hulu-tgif-sitcoms/