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  • How do a pair of HomePods compare to a $180 soundbar?

    When comparing audio systems, it is essential to equalise the sound levels of the systems. At all reasonable levels, a louder playback will gain a quality advantage; this is down to the extra detail revealed by boosting the volume of the quieter parts. This is a common problem when trying to compare sound quality, be it of different systems or different versions (eg remastered CD vs original CD - it may not be a coincidence that remasters are usually louder than their predecessors).

    While they were playing at a lower level, the HomePods were disadvantaged (I think the story acknowledges that but it's a bit subtle in saying so).
  • Here are all the big changes to Apple Maps in 2017 and 2018

    2 points that makes Google Maps much more useful than Apple Maps.
     - the global coverage.  Apple announces support for public transport city by city, Google does it country by country.  At the pace Apple is announcing a global coverage of public transport will be for the next century
     - the integration with search engine.  You look for something in the search engine and the location is automatically available in the Google Maps on any device you have.
    For developers: integration in your own developments.
    And another:
     - Streetview. See your destination before you leave: my favourite example is when I was driving into Sydney for the first time, lots of traffic and lots of one-way streets. My hotel was on a block corner but where was its car park entrance? Once I knew that, I knew which one-way street to approach on.
  • Apple confirms iOS 12's 'USB Restricted Mode' will thwart police, criminal access [u]

    I prefer to think of this as keeping out the bad guys. In my book, in the UK, that doesn't include the security agencies. YMMV.

    However, it's a Good Thing that Apple is doing this, the agencies should have (be given) different and better methods. Interestingly, the ex-head of GCHQ (UK's equivalent of NSA) is on record as opposing backdoors: he says they're technically difficult and and open to abuse ( About what has been said here in the past.

    BTW The original story is here (but it may not be accessible outside the UK):https//
  • FBI warns public to reboot Wi-Fi routers to counter 'VPNFilter' malware

    I thought it was us Brits who were supposed to see the black cloud around every silver lining!

    There is a world-wide malware threat to WiFi routers so the FBI puts out a warning and some easily understood, easily actioned advice to US citizens. Isn't that their job? Isn't that a good thing?

    If you follow the Symantec link in the article, you'll find that the FBI's advice is effective; not 100% effective but nonetheless helpful. Part of the issue here is that people never changed their routers' passwords, with that audience the FBI needed to keep it simple. The bigger fix involves firmware updates and basic security hygiene and the FBI notice goes on to describe this; it may be simple to the audience here but not so much to the world at large.
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  • Key Apple & Foxconn executives to meet amid iPhone X production woes

    The iPhone 8 is in a difficult position: a solid evolutionary upgrade overshadowed by new technology in an as yet unavailable device that's grabbed most of the attention. I suspect that this will just mean a slower start to sales than usual and then more considered comparisons (including on price) will boost its prospects again.

    It's interesting that the British consumer magazine Which? (well respected for its independence and methodical testing but a little superficial and naive on technology) has rated iPhone 8 as marginally inferior to iPhone 7 (and ditto for the two Plus phones). They say "The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are phenomenal but have been beaten in our tests by the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, partly due to slightly poorer battery life".

    The new case design seems to have passed them by and their average-user perspective maybe means that the evolutionary improvements elsewhere are rated less important. Wireless charging gets just a passing mention (though I struggle to get excited about it too, it's not as though no wires are involved and I can put the device down near a power point and it ends up charged).

    I hardly dare mention that Which? rates the Galaxy S7, S8 and Note 8 marginally better that the iPhone 7! Battery life and "slightly better cameras", since you ask.