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Straightforward Tech Reporting

Google Pixel 4 smartphone available for pre-order » delivery starts October 24th (Updated)

The prices are the same as last year’s Pixel 3 and 3 XL at launch.

The Keyword »

Beginning today, you can pre-order a Pixel 4 for $799 and Pixel 4 XL for $899, and phones will ship on October 24, globally. Pixel 4 comes in three colors, including Clearly White, Just Black, and a limited edition, Oh So Orange.

The Pixel 4 features are listed here.

In Canada, the Pixel 4 costs CDN$999 with 64GB, and $1,129 for the 128GB model. The Pixel 4 XL costs CDN$1,129 for the 64GB model and $1,259 with 128GB.

In Canada, if you order the Pixel 4 by the end of the day October 26, you are eligible for $150 to spend at the Google Store.

Google Canada Blog » Everything Announced at Made By Google Event

In Canada, beginning today, you can pre-order a Pixel 4 for $999 and Pixel 4 XL for $1129 on the Google Store, and at all major Canadian carriers and select retailers. Phones will ship by October 24, globally. Pixel 4 comes in three colours, including Clearly White, Just Black, and a limited edition, Oh So Orange.


In Canada, Pixelbook Go is available for preorder today and will be on sale later this month at the Google Store, Best Buy Canada and select retailers. Pixelbook Go will be available starting at $879 in Just Black, with Not Pink coming to Canada soon.

Learn more about the Pixelbook Go on The Keyword.

You can also check out The Keyword to learn more about the Nest Mini, Nest Wifi, Nest Hub Max, Stadia, Pixel Buds, and Pixel 4 accessories,

Wired » Here’s Everything Google Announced Today (paywall)

More » Reuters


Apple rumoured to release a new lower-cost iPhone in Q1 2020

TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting Apple will release a lower-cost iPhone in Q1 2020.

The phone will have a similar body to the iPhone 8 but contain the same A13 processor as the new iPhone 11.

With a budget price of US$399 (~ CDN$525) Kuo predicts the new iPhone, which some are calling the iPhone SE2, as a “key growth driver” for Apple next year. He reasons the device could attract the as many as 200 million customers who are still using an iPhone 6 or 6s. iOS13, Apple’s latest operating system software for it’s mobile devices, does not support the iPhone 6.

First released in September 2014, the iPhone 6 is sill the most used iPhone.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt »

Kuo’s prediction lines up with multiple other sources that have claimed Apple plans to release a new lower-cost iPhone 8-esque device next year, including the Taiwanese publication Economic Daily News, Japanese publication Nikkei Asian Review, and Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu.

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors »

Kuo’s prediction lines up with multiple other sources that have claimed Apple plans to release a new lower-cost iPhone 8-esque device next year, including the Taiwanese publication Economic Daily News, Japanese publication Nikkei Asian Review, and Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu.

Those earlier reports indicated the device will sport a 4.7-inch display and a Touch ID home button like the iPhone 8. Apple continues to sell the iPhone 8 from $449, while the iPhone SE was $349 prior to being discontinued. When new, the iPhone 8 and iPhone SE started at $699 and $399 respectively.

More » MacRumors, The Inquirer, The Mac Observer, Engadget

Another China controversy for Apple » Safari on iPhone shares IP addresses with a Chinese tech giant (UPDATED)

Alan Martin, via The Inquirer »

It’s emerged that by default, Safari shares some user IP addresses with Chinese conglomerate Tencent. To be entirely fair to Apple, it’s done as part of the Fraudulent Website Warning setting which protects against phishing scams, in the same way it does with Google Safe Browsing. But that might not be of much comfort to Chinese citizens. Tencent is, after all, a company that’s so buddy-buddy with the ruling Communist party that it literally made a game where you applaud a Xi Jinping speech.

Has Apple been transparent about this? Well, it depends on your definition of transparent. If you’re the kind of person that digs deep into iPhone settings and then feels obliged to click the “About Safari & Privacy” link then you will see the following line in the text: “Before visiting a website, Safari may send information calculated from the website address to Google Safe Browsing and Tencent Safe Browsing to check if the website is fraudulent. These safe browsing providers may also log your IP address.”

Read more at The Inquirer »

More via Twitter » Matthew Green

More » Matthew Green’s blog, 9to5Mac, SlashGear, The Hacker News, MacRumors, Engadget,

Apple’s response » We’re not handing over Safari URLs to Tencent – just people’s IP addresses

Cyberattacks are increasingly targeted at small companies, putting many out of business

Highlights »

  • 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves
  • Each incident costs small businesses $200,000 on average
  • 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of being victimized

Scott Steinberg, writing in »

As a result, he says, it’s guaranteed that virtually every modern organization’s high-tech perimeters will eventually be breached. This being the case, for small business owners, it’s no longer a matter of considering if security threats will arise, but rather thinking in terms of when.

Worse, the consequences of cyberattacks continue to grow, with digital incidents now costing small businesses $200,000 on average, according to insurance carrier Hiscox, and 60% going out of business within six months of being victimized. The frequency with which these attacks are happening is also increasing, with more than half of all small businesses having suffered a breach within the last year and 4 in 10 having experienced multiple incidents, reveals Hiscox.

At the same time, though, according to Keeper Security’s 2019 SMB Cyberthreat Study, 66% of senior decision-makers at small businesses still believe they’re unlikely to be targeted by online criminals. Similarly, 6 in 10 have no digital defense plan in place whatsoever, underscoring the need for heightened industry awareness and education across the board.


It is critical for small businesses to adopt strategies for fighting cyberattacks.

Apple TV+ show developers told not to make China look bad

Further evidence that China has some measure of control over Apple.

Alex Kantrowitz and John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed.News »

In early 2018 as development on Apple’s slate of exclusive Apple TV+ programming was underway, the company’s leadership gave guidance to the creators of some of those shows to avoid portraying China in a poor light, BuzzFeed News has learned. Sources in position to know said the instruction was communicated by Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of internet software and services, and Morgan Wandell, its head of international content development. It was part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to remain in China’s good graces after a 2016 incident in which Beijing shut down Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies six months after they debuted in the country.

John Gruber, writing on Daring Fireball »

Apple’s far from alone here. Making big-budget movies and TV shows China-friendly is de rigueur in Hollywood today, and Apple TV+ is now a player in Hollywood. But how is this not a victory for the stifling of free speech?

Megan McArdle, writing in the Washington Post » These spineless weaklings have shamed themselves and their country »

The NBA-wide genuflecting to China is just one disturbing example of a much larger problem as U.S. companies have wiped Taiwan off their maps, erased Tibetan characters from American films, and expelled or cut ties with anyone who dared suggest that democracy is better than China’s one-party rule, and that liberty is better than living in an authoritarian surveillance state. These corporate chicken-hearts include: Apple, American Airlines, Blizzard Entertainment, Coach, Delta Air Lines, Disney, ESPN, Gap, Marriott, Nike, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Vans, and Viacom…

Those business “leaders” who have tacitly endorsed Chinese policy are too afraid of losing their access to China’s 1.4 billion consumers, or its marvelously cheap and efficient supply chains, to bother about any of that. And in fairness, they do have a duty to protect shareholders’ investments and to increase their value if possible, and therefore arguably have no moral obligation to stand up for liberty.

That may be a fundamental indictment of American capitalism, as many have suggested over the past few days. But one can never indict “markets” without implicating millions of co-conspirators: the shareholders and consumers who will keep buying the companies’ shoes and watching their movies and attending their games no matter how eagerly they parrot the Chinese Communist Party line.

The rich world is still a much more valuable market for these companies than even 1.4 billion consumers with low to moderate incomes. If the public had ever demanded that they stand up for liberty, they’d have quickly become champions of freedom. But we won’t, so they don’t.


Chinese citizens will soon be required to scan their faces into government databases to access the internet and obtain phone numbers

Victoria Song, writing for Gizmodo »

Starting December 1, Chinese citizens will have to allow telecommunications carriers to scan their faces when signing up for internet access or to get a new phone number.

The new rule was announced by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on September 27 (link in Chinese). Roughly translated via Google, the statement says the reason for the new changes is to “earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in the cyberspace.” On top of requiring carriers to use facial recognition to see whether an applicant matches their ID, people will no longer be able to transfer SIM cards to others. Lastly, MIIT wants carriers to verify whether mobile or landline phones are correctly registered under real names, and terminate those that aren’t. At the end of its statement, MIIT somewhat ominously notes that it will “increase supervision and inspection, strengthen assessment accountability, supervise the implementation of work, [and] continue to strictly promote the real-name registration management of telephone users.”

Read more at Gizmodo »

A Dutch forum for sex workers and 250,000 of their clients has been hacked

This could get embarrassing for some folks.

Gareth Corfield, writing in The Register »

The forum, named in an endearingly Dutch way, currently has its user data for sale for just €300 on a cybercriminals’ forum, according to local broadcaster NOS.

“In addition to email addresses, this includes usernames, IP addresses and passwords. The passwords are protected and cannot be cracked just like that, but the email addresses of users are legible,” said the broadcaster, which viewed some of the data itself to verify the data blab.

Although users of the forum tended to sign up with pseudonymous usernames, apparently the email addresses registered to some accounts include real names – for example,

Read more at The Register »

Apple bans, a Hong Kong maps app, a second time, caving into pressure from the Chinese

Apple sells out pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong by removing the app from the App Store for a second time. helped Hong Kong protestors find the location of other protestors and also locate police. This comes after pressure from China.

Vlad Savov and Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg (paywall) »

Apple Inc. has pulled the plug on an app that shows police activity in Hong Kong, reversing course yet again as violent pro-democracy protests wrack the city.

The U.S. company said Thursday it’s now decided to remove from its App Store after consulting with local authorities, because it could endanger law enforcement and city residents. That marks a return to its original position, where it initially rejected the app. After an outcry, the iPhone maker allowed it to run for a few days before Thursday’s decision. The see-sawing is unusual for Apple, which exercises rigid control over its app store, the foundation of its global iPhone ecosystem.

Apple joins other foreign companies struggling to navigate the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong as protests that began in June show no sign of abating. The issue has become a red line for those doing business in China, most recently drawing the National Basketball Association into a firestorm over a tweet that’s caused partners to stop doing business with the league and state television to halt airing its games. A growing number of American giants, including Activision Blizzard Inc., find themselves embroiled in controversies over the extent to which their actions are influenced by economic considerations in a vast Chinese market.

Read more at Bloomberg »

More » China Is Forcing Tech Companies to Choose Between Profits and Free Speech » Will Oremus, OneZero

… there is no longer such a thing as neutrality when it comes to Chinese politics. Either they quash speech that offends the Chinese government, or they risk offending the Chinese government themselves.

More » The China Cultural Clash » Ben Thompson, Stratechery »

“It” refers to the current imbroglio surrounding Daryl Morey, the General Manager for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the latter’s dealings with China. The tweet, a reference to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” (a rather frequent occurrence). The Global Times, a Chinese government-run English-language newspaper, stated in an editorial:

Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA team the Houston Rockets, has obviously gotten himself into trouble. He tweeted a photo saying “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” on Saturday while accompanying his team in Tokyo. The tweet soon set the team’s Chinese fans ablaze. It can be imagined how Morey’s tweet made them disappointed and furious. Shortly afterward, CCTV sports channel and Tencent sports channel both announced they would suspend broadcasting Rockets’ games. Some of the team’s Chinese sponsors and business partners also started to suspend cooperation with the Rockets.

There’s one rather glaring hole in this story of immediate outrage from Chinese fans over Morey’s tweet: Twitter is banned in China.

More » NY Times, The Verge, TechCrunch, Axios, Reuters, ZDNet, Variety, The Mercury News, AFP, ABC News, The Mac Observer, CNET, Reuters (again), NPR, Gizmodo, Daring Fireball, BoingBoing

Teens now prefer YouTube over Netflix

U.S. investment banking company Piper Jaffray found that 37% of teens surveyed prefer watching videos on YouTube overall others. Second was Netflix, which came in at 35%.

The cord-cutting continues. Cable TV ranked third, down to 12% from 14% in the spring survey.

The survey also found that only 7% of teens preferred Hulu and only 3% Amazon’s Prime Video.

Annie Palmer, writing for CNBC »

Netflix has had a rough couple of months, with shares falling more than 27% in the last three months. The company reported a rare subscriber miss in its earnings report for the second quarter and faces growing concerns from investors who fear it may face steep competition from the bevy of streaming services being launched from Disney, Apple, AT&T and more.

Read more at CNBC »

Tech companies will now have to pay taxes in each country they sell products and services in

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) made the announcement today in Paris.

As is usual with large internet companies, they brought the change upon themselves as they have gone too far pushing international tax rules to the limit. Countries want their fair share. Large corporations will  no longer be able to park assets in tax havens and low taxing countries.

Leigh Thomas, writing for Reuters »

Companies affected would be big multinational firms operating across borders with the OECD suggesting they should have revenue of over 750 million euros ($821 million).

They would also have to have a “sustained and significant” interaction with customers in a country’s market, regardless of whether they have a physical presence there or not.

Not only would big internet companies be covered, but also big consumer firms that sell retail products in a market through a distribution network, which they may or may not own.

Companies meeting those conditions would then be liable for taxes in a given country, according to a formula based on set percentages of profitability that remain to be negotiated.

Read more at Reuters »

More » Reuters Fact Box, The Mac Observer

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