Recent News from Engadget

Apple no longer activates its proprietary SIM cards for iPads with cellular data

You may need to perform some extra legwork to connect an earlier iPad to cell networks. MacRumors has learned the company stopped activations for the Apple SIM in certain iPads as of October 1st. If you’re affected, you’ll have to either contact your carrier (and likely obtain a SIM card) or use an eSIM in newer tablets. This won’t affect you if cell service is already enabled.

Apple included a conventional SIM with cellular versions of the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, 5th- and 6th-generation base iPads and the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro. An embedded version of the card was included with 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch and second-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pros. All iPads released from fall 2018 onward support eSIMs.

This decision is part of a broader trend. Apple has been shifting toward eSIMs in recent years, and went so far as to kill the SIM tray in US versions of the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro. The technology saves the cost and space of including a physical slot, and is more broadly supported than Apple SIM. Still, this could be a hassle if you planned to use cellular data on an older iPad and didn’t set up the SIM until 

There’s an apparent PS5 jailbreak, but only for old firmware

Almost two years after the PlayStation 5 went on sale, it seems that modders have found a way to jailbreak the console, albeit with some significant limitations. As IGN notes, a modder known as SpecterDev revealed the apparent jailbreak, which is described as an experimental IPV6 kernel exploit that takes advantage of a WebKit vulnerability.

It appears the jailbreak will only work on PS5 systems that run firmware version 4.03 or earlier. If you have updated your PS5 since last October, you’re probably not going to be able to try the exploit. Even then, it seems that trying to install the jailbreak only works around a third of the time.

As for what you can actually do with a jailbroken PS5 right now, you’ll gain access to the system’s debug menu. You might be able to install games from outside of the PlayStation Store as well, but it’s not possible to run sideloaded software. 

Modder Lance McDonald tried the jailbreak and was able to install the PS4 demo P.T., Hideo Kojima’s famed, delisted teaser for the canceled Silent Hills. (PS4 units with P.T. installed often pop up on eBay.) However, McDonald wasn’t able to start playing the game. While the exploit offers read/write access to the PS5, there’s currently no way to execute sideloaded files. P.T. isn’t backward compatible on PS5 in any case.

As it stands, it doesn’t seem likely that this jailbreak will be in widespread use anytime soon, due to its limitations and the fact that Sony could ban modders’ accounts. On top of that, there’s the risk of bricking the console at a time when it still isn’t super easy to buy one. Still, this could give other hackers and modders a foundation on which to build more robust jailbreaking tools.

Hackers release 500GB of data stolen in LA school district ransomware attack

The ransomware attack against the Los Angeles Unified School District just got worse. TechCrunchreports the group that took credit for the heist, Vice Society, has published a 500GB data cache from the early September breach. The collection includes extremely sensitive details like Social Security numbers, bank account info and health data that extends to students’ psychological profiles.

Vice Society had given LAUSD until October 4th to pay the ransom. It’s not clear what prompted the hackers to release the data a day early, but they alleged that the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) “wasted our time” and was “wrong” to tell the district to reject the extortion attempt. CISA, the FBI and other agencies have historically told ransomware victims to refuse payment as it simply encourages hackers to look for more targets, and doesn’t guarantee the data will be restored.

LAUSD superintendent Alberto Carvalho has announced the creation of a hotline at 855-926-1129 to provide support to parents and staff affected by the hack. It’s available between 6AM and 3:30PM Pacific Monday through Friday, except for holidays.

The school district is still recovering, and hopes to achieve “full operational stability” for key technology services. The data leak could still pose a serious risk to students and their families through potential frauds and other privacy violations. To some degree, though, LAUSD is escaping the worst possible damage. Lincoln College shut down completely as the combination of ransomware and a pandemic-related enrollment shortfall made it financially impossible to continue.

Samsung’s 512GB Galaxy Z Fold 4 is $420 off at Amazon

Now’s the time to act if you’ve pined for a Galaxy Z Fold 4 but couldn’t quite justify spending nearly two grand for more than 256GB of storage. Amazon is selling the 512GB foldable for $1,500, a very nice $420 below the official price. That’s substantially less than you normally pay for the base model, and matches an offer on Samsung’s website.

Buy Galaxy Z Fold 4 (512GB) at Amazon – $1,500

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is ultimately a refinement of its predecessor, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Samsung has patched up some of the enthusiast phone’s remaining weaknesses with better rear cameras, improved battery life and added design polish. This remains the device to get if you want a powerful phone that can double as a tablet, particularly if you like to juggle multiple apps.

The catches at this point are the same ones you’ve seen for past models, and to some degree foldables in general. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is bulky compared to conventional smartphones, and you’ll have to live with quirks like the display crease. The rear cameras won’t beat what you get on the S22 Ultra, and the under-display selfie cam is mediocre (if better hidden). If you’re an early adopter or are willing to pay for the biggest screen you can get, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find better hardware at this sale price.

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Kim Kardashian will pay $1.26 million to settle SEC charges over a crypto post

Kim Kardashian will pay $1.26 million to settle charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission over a cryptocurrency ad she posted on Instagram Stories. The socialite and reality TV megastar received $250,000 to post about EthereumMax’s EMAX tokens but didn’t disclose that she was paid to do so, according to the agency

The SEC determined that Kardashian violated the anti-touting provision of federal securities laws. She didn’t admit or deny the charges, though agreed to pay a $1 million penalty and around $260,000 in disgorgement, which the SEC said covers the fee she received for the ad plus prejudgement interest. In addition, Kardashian pledged not to promote cryptocurrency assets for three years.

“This case is a reminder that, when celebrities or influencers endorse investment opportunities, including crypto asset securities, it doesn’t mean that those investment products are right for all investors,” SEC chair Gary Gensler said. “We encourage investors to consider an investment’s potential risks and opportunities in light of their own financial goals.”

Earlier this year, a class-action suit took aim at Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather for promoting EthereumMax tokens. It accused the defendants of participating in a pump and dump scheme, in which investors promote an asset and sell their interest in it after the value rises. The suit claimed the value of the token soared by 632 percent after Mayweather and former NBA player Paul Pierce (another defendant in the case) promoted it.

According to a survey, 19 percent of people who heard about an Instagram Story from Kardashian that mentioned the cryptocurrency invested in EthereumMax. The lawsuit asserts that the value of the token nosedived by 98 percent the day after Kardashian’s post.

This is far from the first time that Kardashian has been accused of publishing sponsored posts without disclosing that they’re ads. Federal Trade Commission guidelines suggest that those who are paid to endorse something on social media should include the #Ad hashtag or include terms like “Sponsored,” “Promotion” or “Paid ad.”

In an incredible case of serendipity, a new podcast narrated by Kardashian, who is studying to become a lawyer, premiered on Spotify on Monday. The System: The Case of Kevin Keith is a true-crime podcast.

YouTube has begun asking users to subscribe to Premium to watch 4K videos

You might soon need YouTube Premium for more than ditching ads, background playback and trying new features. As MacRumorsnotes, users on Reddit and Twitter have noticed that YouTube is asking some viewers to upgrade to Premium to watch videos in 4K resolution. It’s not clear which countries, devices or videos are affected, but this won’t be thrilling if you were hoping for better than 1440p on your computer or tablet.

It’s not certain if this is a test or broader rollout. We’ve asked YouTube for comment, and will let you know if we hear back. Premium normally costs $12 per month, or $120 per year.

A move like this wouldn’t be unexpected. YouTube claimed a combined 50 million Premium and Music subscribers last September. That may sound like a lot of customers, but it’s a modest amount compared to paid media services like Spotify Premium (188 million users as of the second quarter) and Netflix (220.7 million). In theory, locking 4K videos behind YouTube Premium could spur sign-ups and make it a larger revenue source for Google.

What to expect from Google’s Pixel 7 event on October 6th

Google’s fall hardware event promises to be special this year. It not only marks the official debut of the Pixel 7, it will launch the company’s first self-branded smartwatch — the Pixel Watch. But what will those devices bring to the table, exactly? A…

Yahoo Mail app update makes it easier to manage receipts and track deliveries

Yahoo has launched its latest Mail app with a number of updates designed to help users track receipts, shipments, gift cards and “free trial” subscriptions that need to be cancelled by a certain date. A new design also aims to make navigation easier, with “top-of-inbox” contextual filters, one-tap unsubscribe, attachment organization and more. 

If you’re one to sign up for free trials, the free trial tracker could help. It puts reminders at the top of your inbox to let you know when a free trial ends, so you can decide whether to keep or cancel it without panicking about the date. It also offers updated package tracking alerts to inform where your package is or if it’s ready to be picked up. 

Another new view lets you see receipts of all your orders in one place, helping you track spend or easily make returns. And finally, the gift card view shows all your unused gift cards in one place, so you can use them before they expire.

Mail also get some new design features, particularly the updated top-of-inbox navigation that lets you toggle between inbox, attachments, starred and productivity reminders. It also now includes one-tap unsubscribe, group by sender and “email to myself” message you’ve sent as reminders. Finally, there’s a new “attachments” filter that lets you display and filter all your attachments by type (PDFs, docs, photos) so you don’t have to search every email.

While it doesn’t get the attention of a Gmail or Outlook, Yahoo Mail is just behind those two services in popularity with around 225 million users as of 2020. The update is now rolling out to iOS and Android today, though it may take awhile to reach you

Wisk Aero’s latest flying taxi has four seats and can fly itself

Wisk Aero has unveiled its 6th-generation semi-autonomous air taxi, calling it the “first-ever candidate for type certification by the FAA of an autonomous eVTOL.” The design looks like a substantially updated version of the “Cora” air taxi we first saw fly and hover in New Zealand back in 2018. However, the company didn’t show any flight or detail the certification progress.

According to Wisk, the four-seat aircraft can cruise between 110 and 120 knots (138 MPH) at a height of 2,500 to 4,000 feet above ground level. It’s a VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft with a 12-propeller design, featuring tilting propulsion units in front and fixed units aft for lift. It offers up to 90 miles of range and has improved control and efficient energy management over previous versions, according to the press release. 

The promotional video (above) shows passengers buckling in with shoulder harness-style seatbelts and going through a safety procedure demonstration using touchscreens. Wisk says there are “fewer moving parts, no hydraulics, no oil and no fuel,” promising a safer flying experience. It also notes that it’s “designed to exceed today’s rigorous aviation safety standards of a one-in-a-billion chance of an accident.”

The company emphasized the autonomous technology, saying they believe that it’s the “key” to air mobility. To that end, they aim to have improved sensors to detect and avoid obstacles, along with “multi-vehicle supervisors that provide human oversight of every flight,” and can take control if needed. 

Wick said the new vehicle is a candidate for FAA certification that would allow it to fly passengers in the US. However, getting that coveted piece of paper is an arduous chore even for established airplane manufacturers like Boeing using standard aircraft designs — let alone a new company with a brand new type of aircraft that’s never flown passengers before. 

Aviation company Kittyhawk founded by Google co-founder Larry Page recently announced that it was shutting down, a strong indication of the challenges in this sector. Wick essentially sprang from that company, after Kittyhawk partnered with Boeing on the 5th-generation Cora aircraft.

Wick isn’t the only company determined to see this air taxi thing through. Joby received FAA authorization for its air taxi services earlier this year, allowing it to operate commercially. However, that only allows it start testing its services — it still needs FAA certification for its prototype aircraft before it can actually transport people. 

Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Meta and Google to improve speech recognition for people with disabilities

The University of Illinois (UIUC) has partnered with Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft and nonprofits on the Speech Accessibility Project. The aim is to improve voice recognition for communities with disabilities and diverse speech patterns often not considered by AI algorithms. That includes people with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other diseases that affect speech.

“Speech interfaces should be available to everybody, and that includes people with disabilities,” UIUC professor Mark Hasegawa-Johnson said. “This task has been difficult because it requires a lot of infrastructure, ideally the kind that can be supported by leading technology companies, so we’ve created a uniquely interdisciplinary team with expertise in linguistics, speech, AI, security and privacy.”

To include communities of people with disabilities like Parkinson’s, The Speech Accessibility Project will collect speech samples from individuals representing a diversity of speech patterns. The UIUC will recruit paid volunteers to contribute voice samples and help create a “private, de-identified” dataset that can be used to train machine learning models. The group will focus on American English at the start.

The Davis Phinney Foundation (Parkinson’s) and Team Gleason (ALS) have pledged support for the project. “Parkinson’s affects motor symptoms, making typing difficult, so speech recognition is a critical tool for communication and expression,” said The Davis Phinney Foundation’s executive director, Polly Dawkins. “Part of [our] commitment includes ensuring people with Parkinson’s have access to the tools, technologies, and resources needed to live their best lives.”