Apple says there are more than 900 million iPhones in the wild

Apple may not share how many iPhones it sells each quarter anymore. But it did offer a tantalizing tidbit as part of its latest earnings.

The consumer electronics giant has an active install base of more than 900 million iPhones, Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestra said on a conference call with analysts on Tuesday. The number is up year over year, with 75 million units added to the total over the last 12 months, he said.

The number offers a little clarity on the health of Apple’s iPhone business, which suffered a 15 percent decline in revenue in the fiscal first quarter. But be wary of these types of numbers: companies tend to cherrypick the statistics they share to put their business in the most favorable light.

Maestra said Apple would share the active installed base figure “periodically.”

Elon Musk jokes about Rick and Morty defense system for Teslas

Tesla’s Elon Musk knows his Rick and Morty episodes. On Saturday, Musk tweeted about the Adult Swim animated show — with a rather grim reference.

“Tesla Sentry Mode will play Bach’s Toccata and Fugue during a robbery (and keep Summer safe),” the billionaire tweeted.

tweeted.

Elon Musk

@elonmusk

Tesla Sentry Mode will play Bach’s Toccata and Fugue during a robbery (and keep Summer safe)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ho9rZjlsyYY 

3,729 people are talking about this

Let’s break down that sentence. Musk tweeted about Sentry Mode a few days ago, on Jan. 22, when a Tesla owner tweeted about a dent and wished the car featured “360 (degree) dash cam feature while parked.”

And a Tesla owner’s wish is Musk’s command, apparently, as he responded, “Tesla Sentry Mode coming soon for all cars with Enhanced Autopilot.”

Elon Musk

@elonmusk

Tesla Sentry Mode coming soon for all cars with Enhanced Autopilot

Andy Sutton@dmbfanmd

Found this monster dent this morning, right in front of the rear facing cameras. Really wish there was 360 dash cam feature while parked @elonmusk @Tesla

View image on Twitter
5,378 people are talking about this

Will Sentry Mode actually play Johann Sebastian Bach’s iconic Toccata and Fugue, that famed-from-horror-movies classical tune you may think of as Dracula’s theme?

What exactly Sentry Mode entails is still mysterious. A Tesla rep told me in an email that the company wasn’t ready to say more than what Musk tweeted. Engadget has surmised that Sentry Mode will feature “always-on dash cam function or will switch on automatically when it senses a blow or break-in to the vehicle.”

When asked about timing for the vehicle surveillance feature, Musk said on Friday he expected a “rough beta in two to three weeks.”

Anner J. Bonilla🇵🇷🛩️🔋🔧@annerajb

Sentry mode when?
Somebody hit my car and have no video 🙁

Elon Musk

@elonmusk

Rough beta in 2 to 3 weeks

73 people are talking about this

The Rick and Morty comment refers to a more violent form of vehicle protection. In a second-season episode of the show, Rick and Morty go inside the microverse battery of the Space Cruiser, and leave teenage Summer alone in the ship.

Rick instructs the ship to “keep Summer safe,” which it does, to bloody results. If you remember the slice-and-dice scene from 1997’s Cube … yeah, like that. Let’s hope that Musk limits Sentry Mode’s reaction to damage or theft to classical music, not Rick-style vengeance.

And yes, the term “Sentry Mode” is likely to sound familiar to Marvel fans — Iron Man uses the term for a feature that allows for remote-operation of his Mark XLIII armor.

Rick and Morty writers are back at work, but there’s still no date for the show’s return.elon

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Facebook debuts tool to report scam ads that feature false celeb endorsements

Facebook launched a UK-specific tool on Wednesday for people to report scam ads they spot across the platform.

At the same time, the social network said it’s donating £3 million ($3.9 million) to set up an action project, due to launch in May, with charity group Citizens Advice that would help people deal with scams. Facebook announced the tool at a joint press conference in London with consumer advocate Martin Lewis.

Last year Lewis commenced legal proceedings to sue Facebook for allowing adverts that falsely bore endorsements from him and his website MoneySavingExpert.com. At the press conference, he said he’s dropping his suit against the company. Instead of pursuing legal action, he has worked together with Facebook to develop a solution, the two said.

Facebook admitted it had struggled with allowing ads onto its platform that use fake endorsements, including those of celebrities, in order to dupe its users into parting with their money. Scammers and fraudsters refine their techniques as tech evolves, it said, but Facebook wants the new tools to serve as protection and also provide people with a place to get help should they fall victim to a shady ad.

The reporting tool will allow users to flag ads that look suspicious, with reports being handled by a dedicated internal operations team. For now, the tool will be UK only, although if it proves useful and successful, it could eventually roll out to other markets.

The Citizens Advice “scam actions project” will combine a public awareness campaign to help people recognize scams with one-to-one advice for victims. Facebook will provide support on the technology side, but Citizens Advice will otherwise run the project independently.

Steve Hatch, Facebook’s regional manager for Northern Europe, thanked Lewis for bringing attention to the issue and advising the company how to proceed. The new tools are “part of a wider commitment to tackling scams and to ensuring people are given more transparency and controls over the ads they see on Facebook,” he said.

“It shouldn’t have taken the threat of legal action to get here,” said Lewis in a statement. “Yet once we started talking, Facebook quickly realised the scale of the problem, its impact on real people, and agreed to commit to making a difference both on its own platform, and across the wider sector.”

Surprise as Vodacom’s voice and data revenue declines in South Africa

Vodacom has released its trading update for the quarter ended 31 December 2018, which shows a decline in its mobile voice, mobile data, and mobile messaging revenue in South Africa.

Vodacom SA’s overall service revenue declined by 0.9%, which the company said was a result of its customers optimising promotional data as part of a Summer campaign and a subdued consumer spending environment.

“Revenue fell by 1.3% following lower growth in equipment revenue, with device sales negatively impacted by the weaker rand against the US dollar,” Vodacom said.

Vodacom South Africa’s mobile voice revenue declined by 0.5%, its mobile data revenue declined by 0.4%, and its mobile messaging revenue declined by 10.9%.

Despite the decline in voice revenue, Vodacom described the performance of this segment as “resilient”.

It said its voice revenues were “stimulated by strong demand supported by our Airtime Advance product, which makes it easier to buy airtime when a customer is not close to traditional channels”.

Data revenue decline

The biggest surprise in Vodacom’s latest trading update, however, was a decline in data revenue.

Vodacom explained that its data revenue was impacted by customers using data rewards from its Summer campaign to offset their usual spend.

The operator said data usage remained encouragingly strong, with data traffic on its network up 41.4%.

Active smart devices on the network increased by 13.3% to 20.2 million, with average gigabytes per smart device increasing by 31.9% to 1.1GB. 4G customers increased by 40.5% to 9.2 million.

“We sold 209 million data bundles this quarter, as we continue to migrate customers to more in-bundle usage,” Vodacom said.

“We are managing out-of-bundle spend, with more inclusive value contracts and affordable data bundles with shorter validity periods, both of which are increasing in popularity with customers.”

Vodacom said the long-term benefit from this pricing transformation is expected to offset the short-term growth impacts as customers migrate to offers with lower effective rates.

Oliver Mtukudzi dies at 66 #OliverMtukudzi

  1. Legendary Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi has died at the age of 66.

His record label, Gallo Records, confirmed his death to Sowetan on Wednesday afternoon.

Head of marketing Carol Marabe from Gallo Records said: “We are not ready to give an official statement as we would like to give the family the go-ahead before us. We just want to make sure that we respect the family until a spokesperson has been selected.”

A source close to Sowetan revealed that Mtukudzi had been admitted to hospital in December after falling ill.

His close friend Hugh Masekela died on this day last year.

Computicket fined R20 million for anti-competitive contracts

The Competition Tribunal of South Africa has ordered Computicket to pay an administrative penalty of R20 million for abusing its dominance in the ticketing industry.

The tribunal found that Computicket leveraged its market position to secure exclusive agreements with its customers and cut out other ticket distribution companies.

It was found that the company contravened the Competition Act for the period from 2005-2010, and will now be required to pay its R20-million penalty within 60 days.

Initially, the tribunal found that it should fine Computicket R21 million, but it reduced the sum as the company has not previously been found in contravention of the act.

This anti-competitive behaviour allowed Computicket to extend exclusive contracts and negotiate better rates with larger customers compared to smaller ones.

Companies which complained about Computicket’s exclusive contracts include Artslink, Strictly, Tickets, Going Places, and Space.

My Broadband

Spotify will reportedly let you block artists soon

Spotify apparently knows there are some musicians you just don’t want to hear from, as it’s reportedly testing a block feature on iOS.

The music streaming service is letting a select group of users stop an artist from playing, Thurrott reported Monday. The feature will ensure a blocked artist won’t appear in your personal library, playlists, curated playlists, charts, radios or any other feature.

You can’t even manually play tracks from the blocked artist, the site noted, so people can’t troll you by turning on that song you hate on your account. The block apparently doesn’t impact songs the artist is featured on, however, so their collaborations may still haunt you.

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Fortnite had a security vulnerability that let hackers take over accounts

Security researchers from Check Point found vulnerabilities with Epic Games’ website, which allowed potential hackers to log into people’s Fortnite accounts without needing a password. Once they had access to the compromised accounts, the researchers found that you could listen in on friends’ conversations and use the victims’ credit card information to purchase in-game items.

The researchers discovered the vulnerabilities in November, and it was fixed by January.

“We were made aware of the vulnerabilities and they were soon addressed. We thank Check Point for bringing this to our attention. As always, we encourage players to protect their accounts by not reusing passwords and using strong passwords, and not sharing account information with others,” an Epic Games spokesperson said.

Fortnite had a breakthrough year in 2018, with nearly 80 million players. Its parent company, Epic Games, was estimated to profit $3 billion last year, and valued at more than $15 billion for the free game. With the game’s massive popularity comes security concerns.

In August, Epic Games fixed a security flaw with its installer for Android devices, after researchers from Google disclosed a vulnerability that could have tricked victims into installing a fake version of the game. Because the game is so popular, security researchers have found that Fortnite is a major target of malware, with a surge of fake apps popping up online.

“We started to hear there was a lot of abuse at Fortnite’s network,” said Oded Vanunu, Check Point’s head of products vulnerability research. “This is more than a game — this is a huge infrastructure that’s serving 80 million players, who are mostly kids.”

Epic Games has attempted to address security concerns by encouraging its players to enable two-factor authentication through giveaways.

Despite Fortnite’s security measures over the last year, it was an Epic Games page from 2004 that created a small opening for hackers to take over people’s accounts.

Check Point’s researchers found an unsecured URL from over a decade ago, on ut2004stats.epicgames.com — a records page for Unreal Tournament, a first-person shooter that Epic Games first developed in 1998.

The page, which has since been deactivated, was open to cross-site scripting attacks — when someone injects malicious code into a website. The researchers wrote code and injected it onto the webpage to redirect access tokens to Check Point’s servers instead of Epic Game’s.

Think of access tokens as authentication outside of passwords — they’re codes generated by platforms to keep you logged in so you don’t need to log in every time you visit a page. When hackers stole personal information on 29 million people on Facebook, they used access tokens to do it. The Fortnite vulnerability takes advantage of the many different ways you can log into your Epic Games account, using access tokens from Facebook, Google and Xbox accounts.

The attacker would have to send the phishing link on the platform the victim logs into Fortnite from — so if you tied your Epic Games’ account to Facebook, the hack would have to go through the social network, said Eran Vaknin, a security researcher at Check Point.

Once you click on the link, that data is extracted, even if the victim doesn’t type anything in.

“The attack is happening automatically without any user interference,” Vaknin said.

Because the compromised page had an Epic Games’ URL, it would appear less suspicious to victims, Vanunu said. It’s similar to a vulnerability that Check Point’s researchers discovered with accounts for DJI’s drones last March, which the company fixed in September.

In that vulnerability, Vanunu was also able to inject malicious code on DJI’s own domain page to steal access tokens.

“Even if you have a security product looking for anti-phishing, it wouldn’t catch it because it’s coming from a legitimate domain,” the security researcher said.

He warned that as people become more aware of phishing attacks and more careful about typing passwords on suspicious pages, hackers would be targeting access tokens instead. Vanunu encouraged enabling two-factor authentication to protect your accounts — which Epic Games has made efforts to promote as well.

“Token hijacking is something that is happening on all major platforms,” Vanunu said. “We are starting to see malicious attackers looking for tokens more.”