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MEET THE IPHONE X, APPLE’S NEW HIGH-END HANDSET

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THE NEW IPHONE X packs more new stuff into any device since the original iPhone. It’s the most complete redesign of the product ever and even offers a glimpse at what the iPhone might become when the world no longer wants smartphones. Of course, you probably won’t buy one. Even if you can afford the super high price, getting your hands on an iPhone X in the next few months will be like hunting for the holy grail. Except in this case, the fancy one is the right answer.

Today, at an event in Cupertino that doubled as a grand opening of its new spaceship of a campus, Apple launched three new iPhones. Yes, three. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus upgrade the existing models without completely changing them. (More on those in a second.) The third model, the iPhone X, is another thing entirely.

Meet the X

First of all, the X looks like no other phone. It doesn’t even look like an iPhone. On the front, it’s screen head to foot, save for a small trapezoidal notch taken out of the top where Apple put selfie cameras and sensors. Otherwise, the bezel around the edge of the phone has been whittled to near-nonexistence and the home button disappeared—all screen and nothing else. The case is made of glass and stainless steel, like the much-loved iPhone 4. The notched screen might take some getting used to, but the phone’s a stunner. It goes on sale starting at $999 on October 27, and it ships November 3.

The screen itself, called a Super Retina Display, is a 1125×2436 OLED display reportedly made by Samsung. It’s the first time Apple’s used OLED tech in an iPhone, and it offers some big advantages. On a normal LCD screen, even black pixels are lit up a bit, which means you’re never seeing true black—just really dark gray. OLED, on the other hand, can light some pixels but not others, which means black pixels just stay off. Your dark colors will seem much darker, other colors even richer, and even text becomes more pleasant to read. Apple’s also incorporated its TrueTone technology for white-balancing the screen in different conditions, which should make everything look even better.

Since there’s no room for the home button on the front, a bunch of the feature’s functions have been moved to the power button, which Apple’s apparently calling the “side button” now. Long-press it for Siri, double click for Apple Pay. There’s still a little tactility in this phone, even as it becomes little more than a pane of glass.

Even with the huge screen, the iPhone X more closely resembles the iPhone 7. The iPhone’s screen-to-size ratio was always one of the smallest in the industry, thanks to the home button and Apple’s undying love for design symmetry. Getting rid of the home button allowed Jony Ive’s design team to get rid of so much more—just imagine your iPhone 7, but everywhere there’s metal, imagine screen. That’s the iPhone X.

Like the other two phones, the iPhone X runs Apple’s latest processor, the A11 Bionic, along with 3 gigs of RAM. It’s been years since the iPhone wanted for processing power, but the iPhone X might need all it can get. It has to power all that screen, for one thing, but Apple also seems to have created the iPhone X as a foray deeper into both artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Both require serious horsepower.

The iPhone X’s stated battery life has improved—Apple says it lasts two hours longer than the iPhone 7—and so has its charger. After years of observing the Android ecosystem’s messy and multi-standard embrace of wireless charging, Apple’s finally in the game. You won’t have to plug your X into the wall to charge it; you’ll just lay it down on the inductive pad. Apple is adopting the Qi standard, so it will work with current Qi pads by companies like Mophie and Belkin. Apple is also releasing its own charging accessory called AirPower that has room for your iPhone and your Apple Watch.

The camera, of course, has always been one of the iPhone’s standout features. rolling out a series of upgrades to the experience: You’ll be able to capture slow-motion film in higher definition or shoot film-style 4K. With the new Portrait Lighting mode, you’ll be able to tweak the flash on the back of the iPhone to fill a little more naturally—or make it look like your subject’s lit by a spotlight on stage. Up to you.

The back-facing camera array has been rotated 90 degrees so the bump runs vertically. Inside are dual 12-megapixel cameras, just like in iPhone 8 Plus, with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures. Dual optical image stabilization mitigates shakes in both cameras. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has this too, and it looks amazing. The iPhone X’s camera array also has a quad-LED True Tone Flash.

Turn and Face the Strange

In terms of how you actually use your iPhone, the new Face ID may be the most important new feature of the iPhone X. When you first start using an iPhone X, you’ll go through a short setup, the face version of registering your thumbprint—you’ll peer into the front-facing camera, framing your face just right, then turn your head left and right so the iPhone’s sensors can get a good look.

Once you set up Face ID, the feature essentially replaces your fingerprint. You’ll unlock your phone by holding it up to your face, pay for things by holding it up to your face, and log in to apps … by holding it up to your face. It requires your attention to unlock the phone, and Apple says it has done extensive work to make sure masks and photos can’t fool it. Apple appears to see the feature as a way to help you use the phone while you’re using it. The iPhone X can double-check whether you’re using the phone before shutting off the screen, and if it sees you’re looking it won’t play loud alert sounds. There are a lot of things Apple could do when it knows you’re looking at the phone, many of them cool and some of them very creepy. (Be sure to read Andy Greenberg’s initial dive into the security of Face ID.)

All of these facial-recognition features are made possible by an array of cameras and sensors packed into that notch at the top of the screen. The TrueDepth array, as Apple calls it, projects infrared dots onto your face to map it, captures that image, then uses a dedicated processor to interpret the face data. The promise is that it can always be sure it’s really you looking at the phone, even if you’re wearing glasses or you change your hair or grow a beard. The same tech that powers Face ID also comes to life inside the new Animoji, which are iMessage emoji that map to your face, so you can put your voice into the mouth of a unicorn or a dog. Not creepy!

Apple touted Face ID as both more secure and more convenient than a fingerprint, and the onstage demos certainly made it look that way. It’s very fast; about as snappy as Touch ID. But Samsung and others have already tried to make the feature work, and it’s been neither secure nor convenient.

Lucky Number 8

If you can’t get your hands on an iPhone X in the near future, Apple still has two new models for you. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both look like the iPhone 7—with home buttons!—but offer a few big upgrades to match the iPhone X. Both new models support wireless charging, run the latest A11 Bionic processor, and have 2 gigs of RAM. They also have glass backs, which gives them a glossy new look. They don’t have OLED screens, but they’re getting the same TrueTone tech as the X, and they can shoot video in 4K.

In most years, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus would be the “S” phones, a mid-generation upgrade. But this year, partly as a show of strength and partly to keep up with the Note and Galaxy numberings, they’re the iPhones 8. You can buy them in black, silver, and a newly retooled gold finish for $699 and up for the regular one, $799 for the big one. You can preorder the 8 and 8 Plus on September 15, and the phones arrive in stores on September 22.

If you’ve been obsessively following rumors and firmware leaks, little about the iPhone announcements came as a surprise. After Tim Cook promised to “double down on secrecy,” the secrets spilled faster than ever. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported many of the device’s details, as did developer Steve Troughton Smith. But the biggest leakcame last weekend, just a few days before the announcement, when the final build of iOS 11 leaked to 9to5Mac. The firmware was absolutely loaded with details, from Animoji images to Face ID setup videos to the names of the new devices. This was Apple’s biggest announcement in years, and possibly its least surprising.

Still, the iPhone X should excite you. Not just because it’s cool-looking and futuristic, one giant step closer to the “just a screen in your hand” device so many science fiction lovers imagined. This iPhone moves a number of important ideas forward. Apple has the unique power to make, say, wireless charging work—and between the three new models, Apple instantly makes relevant whatever standard it chooses.

Most of all, the iPhone X makes a powerful statement that augmented reality is coming. It might be here already. When Apple launched the iPhone 10 years ago, the device was three things: a phone, an internet communicator, and an iPod. It’s so many more now, to so many more people, but the iPhone X may be the first to be redesigned around a specific new purpose. The more dynamic screen, the vertically stacked cameras, the tiny bezels, the faster processor—all those things work together to make the iPhone X primarily about what’s on the other side. You’re not supposed to look at this device, but through it.

Tech

Somalia’s new telecom regulator takes control of top-level domain

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MOGADISHU, March 9 (Xinhua) — Somalia’s newly established telecom regulator on Friday took full control of the country’s top-level internet domain (dotSO).

The National Communications Authority (NCA) took control of the domain from the Somali National Information Center (SONIC) and Cloudy Registry, who ran the operations and the management of the domain Registry.

“Effective immediately SONIC will become a functional unit within the NCA and its technical operations personnel will report to the NCA management,” the minister of Posts and Telecommunication Technology Abdi Ashur Hassan said in a statement.

“This is an important milestone for the ICT industry in Somalia and another achievement for the ministry on the heels of the passage of the Communication Law and the establishment of the regulatory authority,” he added.

The NCA has inked a deal with Cloud Registry, which provides registry and hosting services to the DotSO Domain. The agreement establishes a contractual relationship between the NCA and Cloud Registry.

“DotSO is a national asset and the 2017 Communication Law charges the NCA with its stewardship,” Abdi Sheik Ahmed, NCA general manager, said, adding that the domain will be managed in the interest of the public and the internet community.

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Diaspora

Swish for Migrants’ One of Sweden’s ‘Fastest-Growing Companies’

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So far, SEK 200 million ($24 million) has been transferred abroad using the Transfer Galaxy service, but soon it could be a matter of billions.

SPUTNIK — Transfer Galaxy, a company founded by Somali immigrants for cheap and handy money transfers is expanding rapidly and has acquired SEK 30 million ($3.6 million) in venture capital, the Dagens Industri economic daily reported.

The company was founded by Somalis Yosef Mohamed and Khalid Qassim in the migrant-dense Vivalla district in the city of Örebro, which is present on the police list of blighted areas as “extremely vulnerable.”

Before Transfer Galaxy arrived, Somali immigrants had to avail themselves of a local representative’s services for money transfers, which spurred the entrepreneurial duo into creating “Swish for migrants” as a cheap alternative.
“Send money to your loved ones,” the front page of the service’s website says.

The aim of the $3.6 million support from the company Backing Minds and the Alfvén & Didrikson investment company will allow it to grow internationally. Earlier, the company grew by customers recommending the service to others, now extra staff will be employed to speed up the growth.

According to Susanne Najafi, one of the founders of Backing Minds, Transfer Galaxy is one of the fastest-growing companies in Sweden.

“I believe this company will be valued at over one billion kronor in the future,” Najafi told Dagens Industri, pointing out that the company is growing by a double-digit percentage each month.

The company was started in 2015 and subsequently grew to attract 600 loyal customers. Since then, the company has grown considerably and after acquiring a license from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, helped its customers from 25 European nations to send almost SEK 200 million ($24 million) abroad via mobile or computer.

“We want to become a global company and Vivalla’s largest employer,” Transfer Galaxy CEO Yosef Mohamed told Dagens Industri.

At present, unemployment in Vivalla is three times higher than in the rest of Orebro.

According to Transfer Galaxy, $605 billion is being sent to immigrants’ home countries every year internationally. Therefore, the company aims to specifically address those two billion people in the world who do not have access to a regular bank.

“For example, in Somalia, the founders’ home country, 73 percent use mobile money, compared with only 15 percent of the population who use a traditional bank,” the company wrote in a press-release.

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Briefing Room

How the U.S. is using terrorists’ smartphones and laptops to defeat them

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USA TODAY — Smartphones helped terror organizations grow and communicate. Now the devices are contributing to their downfall.

In a nondescript, highly secured building in this Washington suburb, a group of U.S. government technicians and linguists are downloading massive amounts of data from phones, hard drives, CDs and other devices, providing a huge boost to the U.S. intelligence community as it hunts terrorists.

Many of the devices have been captured from battlefields in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State has lost virtually all the territory it captured in 2014.
“This is the future,” Kolleen Yacoub, director of the National Media Exploitation Center, told USA TODAY in a rare interview at the center’s headquarters.

It was the first time the center, which also supports law enforcement and other agencies, has allowed a journalist into the facility, providing insight into a critical but little known part of the intelligence community.

The center grew from a handful of employees when it was established in 2003 to about 700 today, including offices overseas. It has about 100 linguists.

“The ability to exploit captured electronic hardware is a great capability that we have adopted and expanded and improved tremendously over the past 15 years,” said Jim Howcroft, a retired Marine intelligence officer and director of the terrorism program at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

The center in Maryland, managed by the Defense Intelligence Agency, reviews paper documents as well as electronic items.

But it is the proliferation of laptops and cellphones that has fueled the growth in this type of intelligence gathering.

Smartphones hold massive amounts of information critical to intelligence analysts, including photos, telephone numbers, GPS data and Internet searches.

Users generally assume the device won’t be compromised and don’t take precautions to protect the data, Yacoub said.

“What they’re saving on their devices is ground truth,” Yacoub said. “We tend to treat our digital devices, our mobile devices … as personal items and we don’t lie to them.”

“The adversaries don’t lie to them either,” she said.

The data include videos and photos that help identify militants and their leaders.

Even when a device is damaged or information is deleted, the center’s technicians recover 60% to 80% of the data. “Deleted does not mean lost” is one of the center’s mottoes.

The amount of data coming into the center has skyrocketed in the past two years, Yacoub said, mainly because of the campaign against the Islamic State, or ISIS.

The data analysis has been particularly helpful in giving intelligence analysts an unprecedented look at how the radical group operated in Iraq and Syria because of the ubiquity of smartphones and the meticulous way ISIS kept records in areas it controlled.

The data include tens of thousands of personnel records on foreign fighters and their families with dates of birth, aliases, phone numbers, jobs and other valuable intelligence.

“They have their own central government in a sense,” Yacoub said.

ISIS had departments that developed drone technology, chemical weapons, finance and propaganda operations. It also kept detailed records on the bureaucracy it created to provide services in areas it controlled.

Some of the terror leaders have been captured fleeing the battlefield with reams of information in the hopes that they can use it to keep the group active or to regroup after the loss of territory.

“If you’re committed to sustaining this organization and you’re going to take your show on the road … then you’re taking everything you can with you,” Marine Brig. Gen. James Glynn, deputy commanding general of the Special Operations Joint Task Force, said in an interview from Baghdad.

The intelligence is helping analysts map out how the Islamic State may try to evolve.

“If you don’t have a clear understanding of how ISIS is operating today, I don’t think you can really understand where they are going to next,” said Seth Jones, director of the Transnational Threat Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They are not going to disappear.”

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