Tag Archives: upgrade

Tor is getting a major security upgrade

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To hackers, spies, and cyber-criminals these days, calling Tor “secure” is a bit laughable. There are so many exploits and workarounds, along with unavoidable weaknesses to side-channel attacks performed in the physical world, that in some cases the false sense of cyber-security can end up making relaxed use of Tor less secure than paranoid use of the regular internet. If you’re someone looking to buy some weed on the internet (or communicate securely with your mistress), Tor is probably alright for you. If you’re looking to sell some weed on the internet, get in contact with a government informant, or share sensitive information between foreign activists, it probably isn’t. Tor is looking to change that.

This is coming specifically in the wake of recent revelations of wide-ranging vulnerabilities in Tor’s anonymity protocols. A high-profile expose accused researchers at Carnegie Mellon of accepting a government bounty (reportedly a cool million dollars) to de-anonymize certain Tor users (those specifically mentioned in the expose include a child porn suspect and a Dark Market seller). Their attack vector and others are just what cynical hacker-forum users have been prophesying for years, things like malicious Tor nodes and directory servers that exist solely to suck up the personal info of those Tor users they serve.

TorOne major initiative involves the algorithm governing the selection and use of “guard nodes,” which are the first anonymizing nodes used by a Tor hidden service, and thus the only nodes interacting with the legitimate IP, directly. Right now, a Tor connection might use multiple guard nodes and as a result open itself up to more vulnerability than necessary — now, the developers want to make sure that Tor connections use the minimum possible number of guard nodes, and preferably just one.

Another push hopes to reinforce the wall between dark web domains, the crawlers used by search engines, and specialized server-finders. One of the strengths of a hidden service is that it’s hidden — not just the physical location of the server hosting the service, but the digital address of the service itself, unless you’re specifically handed the randomly generated onion address. Keeping hidden services off of search engine results means that a private service can remain private, used only by those people specifically handed the address. Should an attacker find that address, Tor’s anonymity protocols should protect it. But attackers can’t even try to access services they have no idea exist.

silk road head

If you’re up to delving a bit deeper into the Dark Web, and you don’t mind looking at 99 useless sites for every interesting one, boot up the Tor Browser and take a look at this ingenious hidden service indexing tool for an idea of the level of crawling that can currently be done on the Deep Web.

The Tor Project exists to provide anonymity — that is its main function, and all other functions are in service to that. So, to attack the security of a Tor user (even a legitimately horrible criminal) is to attack Tor itself. It’s a tough principle to stand behind, at the end of the day — to get mad about police efforts to catch child pornographers. Yet, the security world is united; security researcher Bruce Schneider has called Carnegie Mellon’s alleged collaboration “reprehensible,” as did numerous other academic security researchers.

silk road 2Their reasoning is sound. There is simply no way to attack the availability of anonymity to bad people without also undermining the availability of anonymity to good ones. We also need to have a class of disinterested researchers who can interface with the criminal/quasi-legal cyber underground and have meaningful, honest conversations — we need this for social understanding, the maintenance of free speech, and effective law enforcement.

That’s not a perspective that seems to exist in the government, to any extent. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have led to sustained attacks on encryption and anonymity, even before the investigation produced any evidence that the attackers had used encryption, and certainly in absence of any evidence that if they had not used encryption that they would have been detected reliably by French or international security agencies. The New York Times, which broke the story of an alleged encryption aspect to the attacks, has since pulled the story from their website.

Of course, the hacker/security community will take some time to win back, and may never return to the fold. There’s a significant number of people who still believe that Tor is an elaborate government honeypot with zero real security from government spying. That’s unlikely, but ultimately it’s the perception that counts. Can the Tor Project win back the hardcores? Perhaps not. But with its continuing, aggressive updates, it could keep us normies safer as we browse drug-lists without buying, stare uncomprehendingly at ISIS statements posted in Arabic, and just generally indulge the extremes of our intellectual curiosity.

In other words, it could keep the basic tenets of liberty alive just a little bit longer.

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Apple updates iMacs with 4K and 5K Retina displays

Apple has updated its iMac range with Retina 4K and 5K displays, and Force Touch technology through a new line of accessories

Apple has updated its iMac range with new Retina displays and Force Touch capabilities thanks to a new line of wireless accessories.

The 21.5-inch standard iMac now features a Retina 4K display for the first time, while the 27-inch range has been updated to sport Retina 5K displays.

The company has released three wireless accessories, the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2, to bring its Force Touch technology to its desktop models. All three feature rechargable batteries, and each new iMac will come with a new Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 as standard. The Magic Trackpad 2 is sold separately.

The Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Mouse 2

First introduced with the Apple Watch, Force Touch uses pressure-sensitive technology to open menus dependent upon the pressure applied to the surface.

iMac: now with 4K and 5K displays

The 12-inch MacBook was the first of Apple’s computers to contain the updated trackpad and scissor-mechanism keyboard when it was released in May, before they were integrated into the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. A ‘Taptic Engine’ delivers the sensation of a click via the trackpad’s capactive glass surface, which is actually solid and does not depress. Four force sensors detect how much pressure you’re applying to the surface in order to open the new menu.

The new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6scontain an extension of Force Touch known as 3D Touch, which allows users to preview links and other types of media before fully opening it through new feature Peek and Pop, as well as open shortcut menus on the home screen under Quick Actions.

The 21.5-inch iMac’s 4K display features a 4096 x 2304 resolution and 9.4m pixels, which the company claims is 4.5 times more than the standard non-4K model’s display. It contains a fifth-gen Intel Core processor and enhanced Intel Iris Pro Graphics, with two Thunderbolt 2 ports for up to 20Gbps data transfer speeds for external drives. The 21.5-inch iMac is available in three models starting at £899 and £1,049 and with a Retina 4K display starting at £1,199.

The 27-inch Mac boasts what Applealleges is the world’s highest resolution all-in-one display with 14.7m pixels, which is seven times more than an HD display. The 27-inch iMac comes in three models starting at £1,449, £1,599 and £1,849.

The new iMacs will be the first models to ship with latest OS X operating system, El Capitan.

Purchased separately, the Magic Keyboard costs £79, the Magic Mouse 2 is £65 and the Magic Trackpad 2 retails for £109.

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Lockscreen Bug Fix Conspicuously Absent in iOS 9 Update

Apple on Wednesday released the first update to its new iOS 9 operating system to clean up some bugs in the original version of the software.

Bugs addressed in the update, iOS 9.0.1, include a system freeze on the slide to update screen, alarms and timers that would fail to go off, and frame distortion in paused videos. One bug Apple didn’t address allows an intruder to bypass a device’s lockscreen.

Still, compared to some past versions of iOS, the latest version of the software is “very stable,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

That’s borne out in the latest crash statistics released by Crittercism. They show that the crash rate five days after release of iOS 8 was 3.3 percent, compared with 2.2 percent for iOS 9 for the same period.

Comparing iOS 8 to iOS 9 may not be entirely fair, however, because the jump from their predecessors differed.

“The difference between iOS 7 and iOS 8 was greater than the one between iOS 8 and iOS 9,” said Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“The software is very stable, and since I’ve been working with it, I haven’t had any significant hiccups,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Bugs Squashed Before Release

Two contributing factors to iOS 9’s stability are the size of the software download and the length of time it was in public beta, Bajarin told TechNewsWorld.

“Past versions of iOS were about 5 GB in size. This one is less than 2 GB, so it’s a much smaller code update,” he said.

“Another reason it has fewer bugs is it has been in public beta for four or five months, so a lot of bugs were caught before it was released to the public,” Bajarin continued.

“With any operating system, you’re going to find bugs when it first comes out,” he said. “The good news is, when they do it like this with a public beta, by the time it comes out, any bug is going to be minor.”

Lockscreen Vulnerability

One serious unaddressed bug in iOS 9, discovered by Jose Rodriguez, allows an intruder to bypass a device’s lockscreen and access photos and contacts on it.

Rodriguez, who also discovered a lockscreen bug in iOS 6.1.3 two years ago, posted a video to YouTube demonstrating proof that the OS’ five-attempt lockout policy could be breached, and that Siri could be enabled from the lockscreen.

The technique apparently works only with four- or six-digit passcodes, according to AppleInsider.

Apple is no stranger to lockscreen bugs, as they were discovered in iOS 4, 6 and 7, too, it noted.

“These lockscreen vulnerabilities seem to be a trend for Apple when they release a new OS update, whether it be PIN codes or the fingerprint scanner,” said Armando Orozco, a senior malware intelligence analyst forMalwarebytes.

“It boggles my mind how these trivial methods have been used to bypass lockscreen security,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Convenience vs. Security

Allowing Siri to respond to voice commands before a device is unlocked is a feature that must be used with caution, advised Paco Hope, a principal consultant at Cigital.

“If you have Siri enabled from the lockscreen, you have to be careful what you enable it to do,” he told TechNewsWorld. “That’s always been the case.”

Accessing Siri from the lockscreen is enabled by default. If it were turned off by default, it would make an iPhone more secure, but Apple may not want to do that.

“If you create really usable features but they have to be enabled manually, then nobody ever uses them,” Hope said.

The lockscreen vulnerability came to light as Apple scrambled to purge an infestation of apps infected with malware.

“Every week it’s another vulnerability in iOS,” Trend Micro Chief Cybersecurity Officer Tom Kellermann told TechNewsWorld. “It’s troublesome that more and more of these things are coming to light.”

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Google will reportedly announce second-generation Chromecast this month

Google set to show off a new version of its Chromecast media-streaming device later this month, according to 9to5Google. Documents reportedly obtained by the site indicate that the second-generation Chromecast will have upgrades over the current version, including improved Wi-Fi, and a slate of new features. Among those additions are support for content feeds, and a new feature called “Fast Play” which could make connecting Chromecast to other devices quicker and simpler than it has been in the past.

Pictures of the updated device are small and blurry, but seem to show that the new Chromecast will keep the same dongle shape as its predecessor, and will be available in a variety of colors. The images also show something called Chromecast Audio, which, according to the documents, will allow your Chromecast to connect to speakers via auxiliary cord. 9to5Google says Chromecast Audio will have multi-room support, will be able to mirror your Chrome or Android audio, and will boast “high-quality” sound.

GOOGLE IS ALSO REPORTEDLY PLANNING TO ANNOUNCE CHROMECAST AUDIO

There’s no exact details on what the support for content feeds, Fast Play, or the improved Wi-Fi will bring for the second-generation Chromecast, but it seems we won’t have to wait long for official specifications: the new Chromecast is reportedly set to be announced at Google’s event on September 29th. At the same time, the company is expected to revealtwo new Nexus phones — one from LG, and one from Huawei.

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Apple’s iOS 9 drops on Wednesday: Will you be upgrading?

One of the major differences between Apple’s iOS releases and Google’s annual Android refresh is the number of customers that can take immediate advantage of the new operating system. Google, for various reasons, can only roll out new Android versions to its own Nexus devices. Apple, of course, can push iOS to the entire set of eligible hardware immediately — and with iOS 9, it’s targeting a wide swath of equipment. The iPhone 4S, 5, 5s, 5c, 6, and 6 Plus will all receive iOS 9, along with the brand-new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Fifth and sixth-generation iPod Touch devices are supported, as well as all iPads from the iPad 2 forward to the new iPad Pro and the entire iPad Mini family.

iOS 9 is introducing a number of new features. App Thinning will help free up space on new devices by only downloading the version of an application that your device will run, rather than pulling down every version of a program. Apple has trimmed the size required for system updates after the uproar over iOS 8 on 16GB devices, and it can temporarily delete and re-download applications to clear space for necessary system files during the update process.Multitasking support is coming to the iPad family, courtesy of a new feature called Slide Over, and applications can now be launched side-by-side, provided you own a later-model iPad that’s capable of using the feature.

iOS' new split view.

Apple has also announced that iOS 9 will get multiple game-centric updates and features, including frameworks for developing AI (GameplayKit), lighting 3D models (Model I/O), and ReplayKit (used to record and share gameplay). Apple’s Metal AI will likely be used more often on iOS 9, since a greater percentage of the iOS devices on the market can take advantage of it. Still, this market will be split for several more years — Metal only runs on A7-class devices or newer, which means that owners of the iPhone 4S, 5, and 5C won’t be able to take advantage of its benefits.

The big performance question

It’ll be interesting to see if Apple’s new OS can deliver the performance improvements the company has promised. Prior to iOS 9, Apple typically focused its development efforts only on the latest and greatest handsets it built. Devices from previous generations often saw performance regressions if they updated their operating systems, but failure to update your OS often results in your phone no longer being able to download new versions of an app. I’ve been stuck in that situation for quite a while, since I refuse to update my iPhone 5c to iOS 8.

My reasoning is simple: Previous versions of iOS haven’t really offered enough new features to make it worth upgrading — and performance has declined in certain tasks between iOS 7 and iOS 8. iOS 9, in contrast, is supposed to have been built from the ground-up for older hardware and actually tested on it to make certain it performs well. I suspect a great many owners of older iOS hardware will be watching to see whether or not it’s worth upgrading. It’s not enough to just pack in new features — I don’t want to download a new operating system that leaves me feeling like I now need a new phone to match it.

That’s particularly important now that Apple has decided to hold the line at 16GB of storage with no microSD support and an anemic 5GB iCloud (at least, that’s the free option). For the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Apple wants an extra $100 to upgrade to 64GB, despite the fact that you’d pay about $8 for that much NAND flash on the spot price market. Gouging customers for flash storage is practically a pastime in the mobile industry, but I’m not really interested in playing that game.

We’ll find out on Wednesday if iOS 9 is worth downloading. Users curious about the full suite of improvements for iOS 9 can consult Apple’s developer release notes here.

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Apple’s iPhone upgrade program: What you need to know

In this edition of Ask Maggie, CNET’s Marguerite Reardon looks into Apple’s new program that lets customers upgrade their iPhone every year. How does it compare with similar plans from the big wireless carriers?

Who wouldn’t want a new iPhone every year?

Apple’s newly announced iPhone Upgrade Program offers customers the opportunity to upgrade their smartphone each year by paying a monthly installment. In this column, I’ll look at whether the plan is worth it.

Apple’s plan mimics similar deals offered by the four major wireless operators, which are ditching two-year service contracts with heavily subsidized devices. Instead they’re offering plans that require customers to pay full price for a phone in exchange for lower service fees. T-Mobile started the no-contract trend two years ago and Verizon is the latest to follow suit.

Installment plans help blunt the sticker shock of a new smartphone. And the upgrade plans help drive more iPhone sales.

Apple’s new plan could be a boon for the company, which will not only move more inventory, but will also get a steady stream of older devices it can resell.

The new financing program will be available only at Apple retail locations. Customers won’t be able to sign up for it online. Devices bought through the program will be unlocked, but they must be activated on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon, the company said during the announcement.

Dear Maggie,

I’m sure you’re getting lots of questions about the new iPhone Upgrade program. Could explain how it works? Also, how does it compare to the installment plans the carriers have? I’m a T-Mobile customer, so I don’t have the option of a contract plan. Should I be considering this plan?

Thanks,
Ike

Dear Ike,

You’re right, I’ve gotten tons of emails asking how Apple’s program works and stacks up against carrier plans. To help answer all these questions, I put together an FAQ.

What’s the pricing for the Apple upgrade program?

Pricing starts at $32.41 a month for a 16GB iPhone 6S and goes as high as $44.91 for the 128GB iPhone 6S Plus.

The pricing is on top of the monthly fee you’ll pay for wireless service from your carrier.

Do customers have to return their old iPhone when upgrading to the next model?

Apple’s program is essentially an installment plan combined with an early upgrade program. It spreads payments for the new phone over 24 months. Customers can upgrade free after 12 payments. To upgrade, they must trade in their existing iPhone; then the clock resets on the monthly payments for the new device.

If customers choose not to upgrade, they can continue paying off the device. After 24 months, they’ll own the phone and can keep it, sell it, give it to a family member or use it as a backup device.

If customers want a new phone after making 24 payments, they can keep their paid-off phone and sign up for a new device, assuming Apple continues the program.

The plan offers ‘unlocked’ iPhones. What are they and why would I want one?

An unlocked smartphone doesn’t have software installed from a specific wireless operator to prevent it from being used on a rival’s network. iPhones sold for and by major carriers include a software lock. (Verizon is the big exception. All its 4G LTE devices come unlocked.) AT&T and Sprint will generally unlock devices once they’re paid for.

T-Mobile announced Thursday a network service guarantee that lets unsatisfied customers request that their smartphone be unlocked so it can be used on a competitor’s network, even if the device isn’t paid off.

Unlocked phones let customers avoid contracts and switch carriers if they’re unhappy with service. They also let customers swap SIM cards so the device can be used with a local service provider when traveling abroad. This can save big bucks on service charges while out of the country.

In the past, unlocked iPhones didn’t work on all US carriers. Will the unlocked version sold through this program work?

In years gone by, Apple built multiple versions of the iPhone that included technology compatible with particular wireless operators. Unlocked versions of the phone were often tailored more for the European market, which uses a network technology called GSM to deliver voice service. AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. use GSM, while Verizon and Sprint use a technology called CDMA to deliver voice service. Because of this difference, unlocked iPhones sold by Apple often didn’t support the CDMA technology needed to operate on Verizon and Sprint.

Apple says the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus sold through this program will come unlocked and will work on any of the four major US carriers’ networks.

How does pricing for Apple’s new plan compare to similar plans from the carriers?

Look at the chart below and you’ll see that Apple’s program is likely to be pricier than most of the other offers.

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CNET

One thing to note is that included in the monthly fee is a subscription to Apple Care+, Apple’s insurance and extended warranty program. The retail cost of this service is $129. If you look at the total price of a new 16GB iPhone 6S under the Apple program, it’s roughly $129 more than the full retail price of the device, which is $650.

Each of the four major carriers in the US offers installment and/or early upgrade programs for new iPhones. And each of those is likely to be at least slightly less expensive than Apple’s plan. But remember that these plans don’t include insurance or an extended warranty. Customers wanting those features must pay extra, and the per month and total cost could be pricier than Apple’s offer.

Based on current pricing, Sprint offers the best value for customers who’d like to upgrade to a new iPhone every year, through a leasing program called iPhone Forever. Right now Sprint is offering a promotion that lets customers lease a new iPhone for $15 a month with the option to upgrade anytime they want. In order to get this price, customers have to turn in a functioning smartphone. Without a device to trade-in, the price is $22 a month to lease a new iPhone 6S.

For iPhone fans who plan to keep their devices longer, T-Mobile’s Jump On Demand offers a great value. The plan, available only in retail stores, charges a monthly fee and lets customers upgrade up to three times a year.

Following Apple’s announcement, T-Mobile sweetened its deal by dropping the monthly lease price for a new 16GB iPhone 6S to $20 a month. But the real value of the T-Mobile offer over all the other plans is that it lets customers pay $164 at the end of the lease period to own the phone. This, coupled with the newly reduced monthly fee, brings the total cost of a new iPhone under T-Mobile’s Jump plan to $524, a savings of $126 over the full retail price of the phone.

I know Apple Care+ is included in the monthly fee under Apple’s program. What benefit does it provide over the standard warranty?

Apple iPhones come with a limited one-year warranty, which covers manufacturer defects, as well as 90 days of support. AppleCare+, which now costs $129, extends the basic warranty to two years. It also adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $99 for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

The bottom line: What should I do?

Apple’s upgrade program is attractive only for people looking to upgrade to the latest iPhone every year.

Even then, Sprint and T-Mobile each offer less expensive options, especially with the promotions they’re currently running.

If you’d rather use AT&T or Verizon as your service provider, and you’d like to upgrade your iPhone each year, the Apple upgrade program is appealing. It’s priced slightly lower than AT&T’s Next program, which also allows the option to upgrade once a year, and it includes the Apple Care+ warranty and insurance. For Verizon subscribers, it’s the only option if you want to upgrade without paying the full price for a new device every year.

If you plan to keep your device for at least two years and you don’t really need or want to spend extra money on the Apple Care+ service, then almost any offer from one of the wireless carriers will likely cost you less over a 24-month period than Apple’s plan.

I hope this advice was helpful, and good luck!

Ask Maggie is an advice column that answers readers’ wireless and broadband questions. If you have a question, I’d love to hear from you. Please send me an e-mail at maggie dot reardon at cbs dot com. And please put “Ask Maggie” in the subject header. You can also follow me on Facebook on my Ask Maggie page.

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OnePlus 2 vs. OnePlus One: Should you upgrade?

OnePlus has finally unveiled the 2, its newest flagship phone and successor to the popular OnePlus One. OnePlus built its name on selling an unlocked, off-contract, large-screen Android phone at an unbeatable price. Well, sort of. If you were one of the lucky ones to score a OnePlus One — and I mean really lucky, because they were unusually difficult to get for almost the entire production run — should you upgrade to the OnePlus 2 when it’s available in a few weeks? Let’s find out.

Design

As with the first model, the front of the OnePlus 2 lacks any identifying logos or other details to mar the minimalist look. That said, OnePlus seems to have vastly upgraded the construction quality of the phone. Early hands on reports around the Web indicate it feels fantastic to hold and use, thanks to its metal buttons and frame. You can get the OnePlus 2 with a variety of StyleSwap covers that lend the look and feel of leather, wood, or Kevlar to the handset. You can also swap the covers — hence the name — and change the look of the phone over time, or refresh it if it starts to look dingy. It’s slightly heavier than the first model at 6.17 ounces, but it’s for a very good reason.

This time around, there’s a fingerprint sensor for security as well as customizable capacitive navigation keys. Charging is via the OnePlus 2’s next-generation USB-C port on the bottom edge, and there’s also a bottom-facing speaker and two microphones. The OnePlus 2 also has an Alert Slider, which lets you switch between three profiles for notifications without having to take the phone out of your pocket.

Display

The 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD is similar to the first model’s, although the company says brightness is considerably upgraded this time around. It’s the same size as what you’d find on an LG G4 or iPhone 6 Plus, slightly larger than the Samsung Galaxy S6 (5.2 inches), and slightly smaller than the Galaxy Note 4 (5.7 inches). The OnePlus 2’s display isn’t 2560×1440 like some other phones, but I still maintain the latter is a resolution better suited to a 27-inch iMac — or at least a large tablet instead of a phone.

Hardware and OS

Underneath the hood is an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and Adreno 430 GPU, 4GB RAM, 4G LTE, and a 3,300mAh battery. The last version had a previous-generation quad-core Snapdragon 801 and 3GB RAM. The OnePlus 2 fits dual SIM cards, which is an awesome upgrade for travelers. It’s probable that OnePlus got a handle on the Snapdragon 810’s notorious heat issues; we’ll know for sure once we get a hold of a handset and run some heavy benchmarks.

Post-CyanogenMod, OnePlus’s own OxygenOS comes preloaded on the OnePlus 2, and it’s essentially the company’s own UI layer on top of Android. It’s pretty light, and avoids the pile on you get from Samsung, LG, HTC, and other manufacturers (if not Motorola to the same degree), if not as powerful at first glance as what CyanogenMod delivered.OnePlus 2

Camera

On paper, the rear camera is similar to the OnePlus One’s, but again the company says it’s a huge upgrade in quality this time. The OnePlus 2’s 13-megapixel camera features six lens elements, an f/2.0 aperture, a dual-LED flash, advanced laser autofocus that locks in two tenths of a second, and optical image stabilization, the latter of which the iPhone 6 lacks but the iPhone 6 Plus has. The OnePlus 2 also records 4K video, and has slow-motion and time lapse modes; the last model did a pretty poor job with 4K, so we’ll have to see how this one does in testing.

Storage

There are two OnePlus 2s: a $329 16GB version and a $389 64GB version. Both of those prices are a bit higher than the OnePlus One, which cost $299 (16GB) and $349 (64GB). The 64GB remains a great deal if you’re looking for expanded internal storage for lots of applications. That one launches in two weeks; the 16GB version will follow after that. Unfortunately, just like with the first model, you’ll need an invite in order to buy a OnePlus 2. You can get one either from another OnePlus 2 owner, put your name on the reservation list, or sit tight for one of OnePlus’s upcoming contests.

Conclusion

From where I’m sitting, the OnePlus 2 looks like a significant enough upgrade. But I’m a stickler for construction quality and design details, I prefer the operation of near-stock Android, and I’ll take whatever speed is available at all costs — so this phone is tailor-made for someone like me. Having said that, I can also clearly see a case for holding onto the original OnePlus One for now. What about you? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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8 Reasons Not to Upgrade to Windows 10

After months of hype and media attention, Windows 10 is almost here. That means it’s decision time: Do you upgrade as soon as you can? Or do you wait?

Hard as it may be to resist the immediate promise of a better computing experience, upgrading to a new operating system as soon as it’s available isn’t always the best idea. Why? Glad you asked. Here are eight reasons you might want to consider not upgrading to Windows 10.

If it ain’t broke…

Sure, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for current Windows users. But price isn’t the only thing you should consider when deciding to upgrade or not. The real question is, What are you going to get? Sure, there’s some fancy new touch interaction and a personal assistant you can talk to — cool story, Microsoft. But “cool“ doesn’t always equal “compelling.”

If you’re happy with your current Windows 7 or 8 setup, why change it? Remember, Microsoft has promised to keep supporting Windows 7 until 2020, Windows 8 until 2023. And you’ve got a year to take advantage of the free upgrade offer. Why the rush?

Windows 10 is forever

Unless you have some serious tech-savvy, downgrading from Windows 10 to a previous version is going to be a serious undertaking. And there’s always the chance that you’ll lose apps and/or data during that downgrade process.

Point being, once you hit that upgrade button, it’s going to be really tough to go back, should you have second thoughts. Why not wait until you’re absolutely certain you’re ready for the new OS?

You can get the new features in other ways

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Image: Microsoft

Microsoft can scream all it wants about shiny new features in Windows 10. But with a little patience and a few Web searches, you can get many of those “new” features now by tweaking your older version of Windows.

For example, Windows 10 brings back the Start menu. But our very own David Pogue showed you how to get that menu in Windows 8 (or 8.1) last year. The shiny new Edge browser looks cool and all, but it doesn’t do a whole lot that Chrome or Firefox — with the appropriate settings and extensions — can’t.

The first version is almost always buggy

Despite Microsoft’s best efforts at collecting feedback from early adopters through its extensive Windows 10 technical preview process, bugs and other issues are still going to surface in the launch-day version of the new OS.

Let others be the guinea pigs, and wait until the bugs are ironed out. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

“You’ll update your OS, and you’ll like it”

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Microsoft is taking a proactive approach by requiring all Windows 10 Home users to accept forced updates and reinstalls of the core apps.

This lack of control leaves you at the mercy of Microsoft, regardless of how you feel about new apps or redesigned interfaces. Should Microsoft push an update that breaks your system … well, too bad.

RIP Windows Media Center

Windows 10 completely does away with Windows Media Center.According to Microsoft, once you upgrade to Windows 10, WMC will all but disappear, leaving you to figure out some other means of accessing your entertainment content.

So don’t upgrade to Windows 10 if you rely on and use Windows Media Center on a daily basis.

Your favorite apps might break

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Regardless of how long third-party developers have had access to Windows 10 to test their code against, it won’t be enough for all of them. If you rely on a given app to do your job, check with its developer about its Windows 10 compatibility before you click on that install button.

You have an older computer

Microsoft has laid out some minimum hardware requirements for PCs to run Windows 10. But let’s be honest: Just because your PC meets those requirements, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be happy with the results.

If you find yourself with an older computer that’s on the bubble between compatible and not, and that PC runs your current OS just fine, you can wait until you upgrade your computer before you update Windows.

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Here’s everything you need to know about upgrading to Windows 10

On July 29th, Microsoft will release the most significant overhaul of its operating system in years when it launches the long-awaited Windows 10.

You probably have some questions. So we’ve prepared some answers.

What’s new and cool about Windows 10?

Windows 10 comes with lots of nifty new features: The Cortana digital assistant takes the best parts of Apple’s Siri and Google Now and adds a little more attitude; the new Windows Store promises apps that work exactly the same on your Windows 10 PC as on your Windows 10 tablet. Plus, the new Microsoft Edge Web browser has cool new features (like being able to scribble notes directly on a webpage), and it’s performing better than Google Chrome in some early benchmark tests.

Should I bother with the upgrade to Windows 10? Windows 8.1 was pretty bad.

So far, Windows 10 seems pretty solid.

Microsoft has made a free preview edition available to those brave enough to test early versions of the software, with a program called Windows Insider.

And even in that early form, there’s been a lot to love. At first blush, Windows 10 takes the best parts of Windows 7 (stability, user friendliness) and Windows 8.1 (touchscreen-friendliness) and combines it into something that’s easy to use, both on computers and tablets. It’s familiar, but fresh.

Microsoft is billing this as “The Last Version of Windows,” and promises that it’ll get new features and upgrades on a rolling basis rather than ever releasing a Windows 11 (or 12, or 13).

How much will it cost me to upgrade my Windows 7 or 8 PC?

Nothing. For the next year, any Windows 7 or 8/8.1 computer, tablet, and smartphone gets a free Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has big plans for Windows 10, but first it needs to have everybody on the same operating system, so it’s willing to take the financial hit.

Which version of Windows 10 will I get for free?

Check out this handy chart:

Windows 10 upgrade chartMicrosoft

Can my PC or tablet handle an upgrade to Windows 10?

Microsoft says the basic system requirements to run its new OS are: 1 GHz or faster processor or SoC; 1 GB RAM (for 32-bit version), 2GB RAM (for 64 bit-version); 16 GB hard drive (for 32-bit version), 20 GB hard drive (for 64-bit version); a Directx 9 or later graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver; 800×600 display.

Most PCs will probably meet these requirements — and the Get Windows 10 app that you probably already have on your computer will tell you for sure.

Cool. So I can get Windows 10 on July 29th?

Sort of.

Sort of?

On July 29th, the first batch of computers with Windows 10 preinstalled will be available for sale. There won’t initially be many of those computers available though, as a lot of PC manufacturers are holding back their new models until the back-to-school shopping or holiday seasons.

What if I don’t want to buy a new computer? 

Microsoft is making Windows 10 available for download, starting on July 29th.

New Windows 10 start menuMicrosoftThe Windows 10 Start menu.

So I can download Windows 10 on July 29th?

Sort of. Again.

First, it will go out to the members of the Windows Insider program, to thank them for their service in testing the operating system. Then, it will go out to one group of users at a time over the next few weeks, starting on July 29th — Microsoft doesn’t want to risk a tidal wave of Windows 10 downloads taking its servers down.

You might have already signed up to get in line for the download. Microsoft has been bugging Windows users about the upgrade for the last month or so, via a “Get Windows 10” app in your system tray. That same app will check your computer for compatibility with Windows 10.

What if I don’t want to download Windows 10?

You have two choices: A boxed copy, or a copy that lives on a USB flash drive. Either way, it will run you $119.99 for Windows 10 Home Edition, and $199.99 for Windows 10 Pro Edition.

The big catch here is that neither version will be released in stores until August 30th, 2015, according to the Amazon product listing.

Xbox Windows 10MicrosoftThe Xbox app for Windows 10, which lets you stream games from an Xbox One games console to a Windows 10 PC.

So if I absolutely need to make sure I have Windows 10 on July 29th, I have to buy a new computer?

Basically, yes.

If I upgrade my existing computer to Windows 10, will I lose my files?

Nope. The actual download and install process is handled through Windows Update, so Windows 10 will still have everything once the process is complete. The only catch is that you’ll lose some programs like Windows Media Center, which doesn’t have a Windows 10 version.

Is Microsoft doing anything special for the Windows 10 launch?

Well, it’s not going to be the mass-market advertising and media blitz of the Windows 95 launch 20 years ago, but Microsoft Stores are having special events all around the country. So if, say, you live in New York and don’t have plans on July 29th, you can meet World Cup soccer champion Abby Wambach at the Garden City Microsoft Store.

Just don’t expect any iPhone-style overnight lines.

bill gates windows 95Microsoft ArchivesBill Gates announces Windows 95.

What if I have a problem with Windows 10 and need some tech support?

“As with any significant release, we evaluate customer resources and have invested in upgrade support from a variety of resources including Microsoft Answer Desk, Windows.com and support.microsoft.com,” says a Microsoft spokesperson.

Plus, those same Microsoft Stores are getting “Answer Desks,” where you can bring in your Windows 10 computer and have them answer questions for you. They’ll even help you install it.

Great. So what’s the catch?

Windows 10 is still very new, so let the buyer beware. Those early testers have already caught lots of flaws and bugs, but there’s going to be some weirdness early on as Microsoft works to patch up the platform. The new Microsoft Edge browser that comes with Windows 10 won’t support browser extensions right away, for example.

If you’re really concerned, maybe take some time before the upgrade.

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