More images from the American West

The American West, whether you call it the Wild West or not, is one of the most evocative settings and periods of history that we can think of. Whether that’s because of countless movies down the years or more modern entries like Westworld and Red Dead Redemption 2, it’s a consistently interesting time. 

Even better, it’s a time that coincided with the first instances of photography, and that means that there are plenty of old photos out there showcasing the diversity of life back then.

We’ve gathered together another selection of some of the most interesting photographs we’ve found for your browsing pleasure. 

US National Archive


We all know that it was a more brutal time, when trophy hunting was more widely accepted than it is around the world now. This grizzly bear, though, is of particular note, and not just because of how impressively massive it is. It was actually shot by General Custer, who would later go down in infamy for his foolish military tactics. 

US National Archive

Training dummies

Before you get worried, as you’ll see from the annotation on this photograph, the horses you see in it are alive and well, merely being trained in battlefield tactics. That said, given the guns being wielded on both sides, it’s more than a little depressing to consider that horses were trained to act as cover like this. 

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Quite a view

Turning away from that more brutal side of things, this view over the intersection between the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers is extremely romantic, not least because of the young woman surveying it to the left of the frame. In the background you can see some long buildings that are suggestive of barracks or other mass accommodation. 

US National Archive

Skating along

This picture is from Montana, and shows a skating party taking advantage of frigid weather to enjoy an excursion – don’t miss the big shaggy black dog the group on the left has brought with them. It’s rare to see images with families and children in this setting. 

US National Archive

Adverse conditions

Cold weather generally didn’t make for fun and games like the skating we saw before, though – for people on the move it meant treacherous conditions and hard riding, as this column shows. At least they’re all wrapped up against the cold. 

US National Archive


A bar in the old West has something extraordinarily evocative to it. This is The Good Old Days canteen from Fort Keogh in Montana, pictured in the early 1890s, in case the mustaches on show didn’t give you a hint. 

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Tools of the trade

Blacksmiths might not be a particularly common brand of tradespeople now, but they were key links chains of infrastructure in the West, helping with all manner of tooling and repairs, from carriages to horseshoes.

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A stained history

Of course, one of many uncomfortable truths of this period of history is the treatment of indigenous people all around America. This image shows native Americans welcoming President Chester A. Arthur, a rare image of concord.

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All a-flutter

As camera technology pushed ever forward, pictures were able to become less and less posed and formal. This image of a cavalry unit performing practice sabre manoeuvres is a perfect example, packed with motion and dust. 

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Not much of a jail

Of course, the West is also famous for its gangs and robbers, and its sheriffs and deputies – a lawless time that would slowly be reeled in. If you ended up on the wrong side of the law things could get pretty rough for you. Just consider this jail in Clifton, Arizona, carved out of the very cliff face. We wouldn’t fancy spending much time in there. 

US National Archive

The force

This photograph of Dodge City, Kansas’ “Peace Commissioners” paints a real picture – the serious looks on their faces, the varied and eye-catching differences between their coats and hats. These were the law-keepers when there wasn’t much law. 

US National Archive

Rough justice

Another form of justice is represented here by Judge Roy Bean, holding a court session of sorts as he judged horse thieves. As the sign for beer might have hinted, this building was both the courthouse and the saloon for locals, making it an interesting dual-purpose place. 

US National Archive


While the cowboys and sheriffs might take the limelight, the reality is that most Americans in the West at the turn of the century faced a hard life of work and little play. These workers on a vineyard show that even if in rudimentary surroundings, industries were starting out. 

US National Archive


You could probably rely on being able to relax after dark, though, as this party is doing at a ranch in Idaho, complete with characterful timber construction, furs and, of course, an astonishing collection of guns. 

US National Archive


Depending on where you washed up, yours could be the only property for miles around, leading to isolated but stunningly beautiful scenes like this one, taken in Montana, with the mountains rising up in the background. 

US National Archive

Backbreaking work

This might look some sort of military endeavour, but it’s actually an irrigation trench in the process of being dug in Arizona, largely by native American labour. This is a showcase of just how much physical labour was required.

US National Archive

Family life

Meanwhile, families continued to live and have children, as demonstrated by this group from Mormon Lake in Arizona (we can’t be sure whether they themselves were Mormons – the place name, though amusing, might be unrelated). 

US National Archive


As anyone who’s played Red Dead Redemption 2 through to the end knows, building a house at this time took, well, time. This group might quite have finished the house behind them, but they look might proud of it regardless, and fair enough.

Google Play has been spreading advanced Android malware for years

Google Play has been spreading advanced Android malware for years

Hackers have been using Google Play for years to distribute an unusually advanced backdoor capable of stealing a wide range of sensitive data, researchers said on Tuesday.

Researchers from security firm Kaspersky Lab have recovered at least eight Google Play apps that date back to 2018, a Kaspersky Lab representative said, but based on archive searches and other methods, the researchers believe malicious apps from the same advanced group seeded Google’s official market since at least 2016.

Google removed recent versions of the malware shortly after the researchers from Kaspersky, and earlier fellow security firm Dr. Web, reported them. Apps from earlier were already removed, and it’s not clear what prompted the move. Third-party markets have also hosted the backdoored apps, and many of them remain available.

Command-and-control domains were registered as early as 2015, raising the possibility the operation goes back earlier than 2016. Code in the malware and command servers it connects to contain several overlaps with a known hacking group dubbed OceanLotus (aka APT32, APT-C-00, and SeaLotus), leading researchers to believe the apps are the work of that advanced group.

Repeatedly bypassing Google security checks

Attackers behind the campaign used several effective techniques to repeatedly bypass the vetting process Google uses in an attempt to keep malicious apps out of Play. One method was to initially submit a benign version of an app and add the backdoor only after the app was accepted. Another approach was to require few or even no permissions during installation and to later request them dynamically using code hidden inside an executable file. One of the recent apps posed as a browser cleaner.

Within time, the apps provided a backdoor that collected data about the infected phone, including the hardware model, the Android version it ran, and the apps that were installed. Based on that information, the attackers could use the malicious apps to download and execute malicious payloads specific to a particular infected device. The payloads could collect locations, call logs, contacts, text messages, and other sensitive information.

By customizing the payloads and not loading down a device with unneeded components, the attackers were further able to evade detection. In a twist, a later app contained the malicious payload in the downloaded APK itself.

“Our main theory about the reasons for all these versioning maneuvers is that the attackers are trying to use diverse techniques to achieve their key goal, to bypass the official Google marketplace filters,” Kaspersky Lab researchers Alexey Firsh and Lev Pikman wrote in a post. “And achieve it they did, as even this version passed Google’s filters and was uploaded to Google Play Store in 2019.”

Google officials declined to say how or even if the company is working to prevent malicious apps from using the described techniques used to bypass the app-vetting process. Instead, the officials issued a statement that said: “We’re always working to improve our detection capabilities. We appreciate the work of the researchers in sharing their findings with us. We’ve since taken action against all the apps they identified.”

Enter PhantomLance

Most of the apps contained functionality that require that phones be rooted. That would require apps to run on devices with known rooting vulnerabilities or for the attackers to exploit flaws that aren’t yet known to Google or the general public. Kaspersky Lab researchers didn’t find any local privilege escalation exploits in the apps themselves, but they haven’t ruled out the possibility such attacks were used. In an email, a researcher wrote:

However, there is an important feature, which can partly answer this question: the malware is able to download and execute additional payloads from c2 servers. So the following scenario is possible—at first they could steal some sort of device information like OS version, list of installed apps, etc. Then, based on this initial information, if this particular infected device looks attractive to exfiltrate, the attackers could send a specific payload suited for its Android version which could be LPE exploit for example. We were unable to get any of these payloads; as I mentioned, these guys are pretty good at OPSEC, so we cannot confirm what these payloads exactly look like.

Another novelty attesting to the sophistication of the apps: when root privileges are accessible, the malware uses a reflection call to an undocumented programming interface called “setUidMode” to obtain the permissions without requiring user involvement. Apps identified by Kaspersky Lab included:

Package name Google Play persistence date (at least)
com.zimice.browserturbo 2019-11-06
com.physlane.opengl 2019-07-10
com.unianin.adsskipper 2018-12-26
com.codedexon.prayerbook 2018-08-20 2018-08-20 2018-08-20
com.zonjob.browsercleaner 2018-08-20
com.linevialab.ffont 2018-08-20

Kaspersky Lab researchers have dubbed the campaign PhantomLance. Based on the overlaps mentioned earlier, the researchers have medium confidence that the years-long series of attacks are the work of OceanLotus. Researchers say the group primarily attacks Asian governments, dissidents, and journalists, with a particular focus on targets adverse to the interests of Vietnam. App names and other strings are written in Vietnamese. Previous reports on OceanLotus are here, here, and here.

This isn’t the first time advanced hackers with ties to wealthy governments have used Play to spread malware. Earlier this year, researchers found Google Play apps developed by SideWinder, the code name for a malicious hacking group that has been targeting military entities since at least 2012. In 2019, Egypt used the official Google market to infect its own citizens.

There’s little chance that people outside a very narrow range of demographics have been infected by this group. Those who want to check just to be sure can find indicators of compromised apps in the previously mentioned post located here.

5G ‘iPhone 12’ rumored to cost $649, ‘iPhone 12 Pro’ at $999 and up


A new report claims that the base price for each of Apple’s four forthcoming 5G “iPhone 12” and “iPhone 12 Pro” models are very close to the same price points as the current iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro range.

iPhone 12 renders

“iPhone 12” renders from a combination of leaked CAD designs and allegedly leaked information

While reports continue that Apple may delay releasing at least certain models of its “iPhone 12” range, a new leak claims that pricing will chiefly remain the same as last year. All four models are expected to have 5G, and it had been assumed that Apple would increase prices because of the new technology. Instead, the two top end models are to remain the same.

Jon Prosser, who correctly reported the release date of the iPhone SE, believes that the only price change will be for the lower end of the iPhone 12 range. That consists of the replacement for the 6.1-inch iPhone 11, which currently starts at $699, where the “iPhone 12” will reportedly sell for $749.

Then there is the new 5.4-inch “iPhone 12,” which is to have a 5.4-inch screen, and which Prosser says will start at $649. Prosser added that he is confident of the figures. “These prices were given to me from the same source that nailed the iPhone SE launch date,” he said.

“The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 is obviously a follow-up to the current $700 6.1-inch iPhone 11,” he continued. “So technically, the 6.1-inch [iPhone] 12 model is increasing in price.”

He also confirms previous reports that the four models will all have 5G, and all have OLED screens. The 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch “iPhone 12” are to retain a dual-camera system, while the “iPhone 12 Pro” and “iPhone 12 Pro Max” will have a triple-camera arrangement plus LiDAR.

MobileIron Acquires incapptic Connect to Accelerate App Release Journey for Enterprise Customers

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.–()–MobileIron (NASDAQ:MOBL), the company that introduced the industry’s first mobile-centric, zero trust platform for the enterprise, today announced that it has acquired incapptic Connect, a leader in mobile automation app release software based in Berlin, Germany and Warsaw, Poland, to accelerate the mobile app release journey for enterprise customers. MobileIron’s unified endpoint management (UEM) platform integrates with incapptic Connect software to help customers quickly develop, deploy and secure in-house business apps, resulting in increased productivity and business innovation.

Native line of business apps are an essential component of organizations’ digital workplace strategies. To stay competitive, CIOs, CDOs and Lines of Business across all industries are developing purpose-built apps to achieve key business outcomes and create great digital experiences for their employees. But today’s corporate app release process is complicated, often involving third party contractors, multiple internal reviews, and approvals required by app stores. That process can take weeks and sometimes months, slowing the rollout of these business-transforming applications. incapptic Connect streamlines this process, shrinking the time-to-deployment to minutes, or hours if approvals are involved. Combined with MobileIron’s ability to automate and pinpoint application distribution to the right users and the right devices, MobileIron and incapptic Connect are helping enterprises confidently and securely accelerate the realization of their digital workplace initiatives.

“We are excited to welcome the incapptic Connect team into the MobileIron family,” said Simon Biddiscombe, CEO, MobileIron. “As companies grow their digital workplaces, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is increasing pressure for IT teams to develop and deliver customized apps in the shortest time possible to ensure productivity. incapptic Connect has built a great product that enables companies to efficiently develop and quickly distribute customized mobile business apps at scale. By integrating incapptic Connect with MobileIron UEM, the app release process can be simplified further, and companies can bring their security and employee productivity strategies to life.”

Together, MobileIron and incapptic Connect support an automated app distribution model. incapptic Connect software automatically validates that an app meets the necessary requirements for publishing to either a public or in-house app store. incapptic Connect then automates the publishing process. Once an app is published, MobileIron UEM automatically distributes it to managed devices and automates updates to ensure that users are always operating on the most secure and up to date version.

“We are excited to join the MobileIron team and to help enterprise customers more quickly and securely embrace mobile app innovation,” said Dr. Rafael Kobylinski, founder of incapptic Connect. “The process of developing and delivering customized apps has largely been fraught with complexity and wasted time. The combination of incapptic Connect’s software with MobileIron UEM helps enterprise customers simplify the app release process, increase security and drive business ingenuity.”

Organizations can build on MobileIron UEM to further secure their digital workplaces with products including zero sign-on (ZSO) passwordless user and device authentication, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and mobile threat defense (MTD).

Any organization can enroll an unlimited number of new users and devices on MobileIron’s UEM platform at no additional cost through June 15, 2020. Click here to learn more or register for a series of upcoming webinars.

About MobileIron

MobileIron is redefining enterprise security with the industry’s first mobile-centric, zero trust platform built on the foundation of unified endpoint management (UEM) to secure access and protect data across the perimeter-less enterprise. Zero trust assumes that bad actors are already in the network and secure access is determined by a “never trust, always verify” approach. MobileIron goes beyond identity management and gateway approaches by utilizing a more comprehensive set of attributes before granting access. A mobile-centric, zero trust approach validates the device, establishes user context, checks app authorization, verifies the network, and detects and remediates threats before granting secure access to a device or user.

The MobileIron security platform is built on the foundation of award-winning and industry-leading unified endpoint management (UEM) capabilities with additional zero trust-enabling technologies, including zero sign-on (ZSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and mobile threat defense (MTD). Over 20,000 customers, including the world’s largest financial institutions, intelligence agencies and other highly regulated companies, have chosen MobileIron to enable a seamless and secure user experience by ensuring only authorized users, devices, apps, and services can access business resources.

Attackers exploit 0-day code-execution flaw in the Sophos firewall

A gaping hole in a brick wall.

Users of a widely used firewall from Sophos have been under a zero-day attack that was designed to steal usernames, cryptographically protected passwords, and other sensitive data, officials with the security firm said on Sunday.

The well-researched and developed attack exploited a SQL injection flaw in fully patched versions of the Sophos XG Firewall. With that toehold in systems, it downloaded and installed a series of scripts that ultimately executed code intended to make off with users’ names, usernames, the cryptographically hashed form of the passwords, and the salted SHA256 hash of the administrator account’s password. Sophos has delivered a hotfix that mitigates the vulnerability.

Other data targeted by the attack included a list of the IP address allocation permissions for firewall users; the version of the custom operating system running; the type of CPU; the amount of memory that was present on the device; how long it had been running since the last reboot; the output of the ifconfig, a command-line tool; and ARP tables used to translate IP addresses into domain names.

“This malware’s primary task appeared to be data theft, which it could perform by retrieving the contents of various database tables stored in the firewall, as well as by running some operating system commands,” Sophos researchers wrote in Sunday’s disclosure. “At each step, the malware collected information and then concatenated it to a file it stored temporarily on the firewall with the name Info.xg.”

The exploits also downloaded the malware from domains that appeared to be legitimate. To evade detection, some of the malware deleted underlying files that executed it and ran solely in memory. The malicious code uses a creative and roundabout method to ensure it’s executed each time firewalls are started. Those characteristics strongly suggest that the threat actors spent weeks or months laying the groundwork for the attacks.


The attack demonstrated that the attackers had a detailed knowledge of the Firewall that could only come from someone who had access to the software, which likely required a license. From there, the attackers carefully studied the Firewall to find inner workings that allowed the downloading and installation of malware that used names that closely resembled names of legitimate files and processes.

The data the malware was designed to exfiltrate suggests the attack was designed to give attackers the means to further penetrate the organizations that used the firewall through phishing attacks and unauthorized access to user accounts, and it potentially exploits targeting the firewalls or end users. The Sophos post said there was no evidence the data exfiltrations were successful, but it also didn’t rule out that possibility.

The zero-day vulnerability that made the attacks possible was a pre-authentication SQL injection flaw found in the custom operating system that runs the firewall. Sophos provided no additional details about the vulnerability. SQL injection exploit flaws that execute malicious code through strings that are entered into forms contained on a vulnerable website. The flaws are the result of a failure to filter out commands. Pre-authentication means the attacker didn’t need to provide any credentials to carry execute code.

Users of vulnerable firewalls should ensure the hotfix is installed as soon as possible and then examine their systems for signs of compromise published on the previously mentioned post here.

Don’t count on reports of a delayed ‘iPhone 12’

Parallel reports have all recently claimed that Apple has decided to “delay the mass production” of its upcoming “iPhone 12”, but these reports don’t offer any meaningful evidence that this could result in a materially late launch. Here’s a look at why.

iPhone 12 renders

“iPhone 12” renders from a combination of leaked CAD designs and allegedly leaked information

Apple’s plans for 2020 have certainly run into a perfect storm of challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is introducing complications into the planning and production of new hardware and the complex component supply chain that feeds its production lines, as well as stoking a challenging global economic situation that will have a significant negative impact on everyone’s sales globally.

However, these alarmist reports confidently claiming inside knowledge of Apple “delaying the mass production” of new iPhones have cautiously limited their remarks to a supposed “ramp-up” period where phones are prepared for launch, reportedly starting in July. The idea that the beginning of the “mass production ramp” of “iPhone 12” could be delayed by weeks is hardly material, even if it could be established to be true.

Apple can accelerate its subsequent pre-launch production to deliver an adequate supply to make up for a slower than usual start. In previous years, Apple has frequently boosted or shifted around its production plans in response to greater than anticipated demand for specific models. Increasing or decreasing production is an art Apple has proven to be extremely proficient at, even under challenging circumstances involving prior economic downturns or supply chain crises.

devastation that hit Japan in 2011

Apple launched iPad 2 despite the supply chain devastation that hit Japan in 2011. Source: BHPEnglish

Apple’s executives have commonly noted this in the company’s quarterly conference calls, specifically highlighting greater than expected demand for a particular product, or a specific model in a range of devices. There is no indication that Apple’s assembly plant partners will be unable to operate at normal production volumes in the second half of this year.

Further, the pressure to build up an adequate launch supply before “iPhone 12” goes on sale is also reduced this year simply because demand is likely to be weaker than usual. Rather than racing out “iPhone 12” in a desperate bid to catch up with 5G Android handsets as these same sources had been predicting, this year’s smartphone sales have already slowed significantly, and the financial impacts to potential buyers around the world will almost certainly repress peak demand.

Rather than resulting in a delayed launch that might threaten Apple to miss the holiday season entirely as some analysts have floated as a “worst-case scenario,” it appears that Apple is comfortably positioned to launch “iPhone 12” as planned. Apple has done this before with previous launches and handling of previous supply chain disasters, and it can manage it because it has the resources to arrange for priority access to testing, production, and shipping services.

The same can’t be said of manufacturers of lower-tier phones that were barely making a profit while the economy was thriving, and demand was reaching all-time highs. Will Samsung and Huawei continue to focus their resources on building whimsical folding prototypes that cost thousands of dollars and sell to only a tiny audience of users? Compare that to Apple, which has been selling tremendous numbers of its highest-end iPhones every year, even during cycles of economic downturn.

The recession in 2008 and its “global macroeconomic headwinds” caused many pundits to worry about Apple’s prospects, given that it was just beginning to sell its new iPhone at a price significantly higher than other competing handsets that sold in large numbers. However, it wasn’t Apple that was hit hardest by that recession. It was the manufacturers of lower-priced commodity products, who experienced a drop in their sales volumes that crushed their thin margins of profitability.

Similarly, the devastating economic impact of so many workers not being able to work will more severely impact budget phone makers, because economic problems are not going to be fairly spread out. As unfortunate and unfair as it is, the hardest hit will be the poor and those already struggling.

The reason why Android has a greater unit market share is not solely a result of buyer preference, it’s because a lot of people can’t afford an iPhone. The vast majority of Android handsets sell for very little, at an average of less than $300.

Apple is now offering a very high-quality budget phone in the new iPhone SE, priced at $399. This will be attractive to users of older iPhones and some Android users who are looking for a good phone at a good price.

The iPhone SE is significantly more than most Androids. The brunt of the financial impact will hit other phone makers harder than Apple because there is not one big market for phones. There are low-end markets, middle-tier markets, and premium markets, with buyers in each behaving differently and not jumping up and down the economic scale and not rapidly shifting between platforms.

How can anyone afford a $999 iPhone?

Over the last holiday season, Apple’s product mix of phones was nearly evenly split into thirds between the middle-tier iPhone 11; the two models of iPhone 11 Pro; and all of the other iPhones it continues to sell, including iPhone XR and earlier models with a Home button. This wasn’t an anomaly; Apple’s sales have consistently tilted toward the high end, resulting in the average selling price of iPhones to reach nearly $800 in recent years.

Apple only has a toe in the middle-tier market. Its sales of iPhone that cost around $400 are a very small slice of its overall sales. This runs completely contrary to the media narrative that insists that nobody cares about smartphones anymore, that they are all a commodity, and that buyers all behave alike in wanting to pay as little as possible for the device they use more often than any other possession. That’s not true at all.

iPhone X sales were not dissapointing as Nikkei has predicted

In fact, the same media sites pushing the idea that iPhones “might be delayed” this year—attributed only to “people familiar with Apple’s plans”—were also using that same kind of anonymous sourcing as the basis for earlier claiming that Apple had been “slashing its production” in previous years in response to “disappointing” demand for its new iPhones. That was false, as well.

But how was it that ordinary people were buying hundreds of millions of iPhones at premium prices? In part, some of Apple’s audience of buyers are people who don’t really care about pricing, and for whom $999 is easy to afford. Samsung and Huawei also have some less price-conscious buyers, albeit far fewer in number.

But the bigger answer to how Apple has been selling so many expensive iPhones is that a $999 purchase that lasts two years is pretty easy to justify at $40 per month. It is even less if you consider that it will still have significant trade-in value after those two years are up. Most people are paying more than that for their mobile service.

The personal connection people have with the mobile device they carry with them most often is tied directly to how much value it brings them in terms of being able to access information, find directions, look up resources, find jobs, meet people, play games and so much more. That makes it far easier to justify the cost of regularly upgrading an iPhone. Apple’s sales of expensive iPhones are far higher than its sales of similarly priced Macs or of iPads and Apple Watches that start off at much lower prices.

Despite it sounding so “reasonable,” the media-stoked outrage over premium iPhone pricing is really just nonsense. Apple isn’t forcing buyers to pay for increasingly expensive iPhones. In contrast, low priced iPhones have never been cheaper or of better quality. Apple has introduced new higher price tiers with features that have attracted buyers; its customers have voted with their dollars for fancier iPhones, signaling that they want to spend more if the quality is there.

The same hasn’t been happening for Android makers. In fact, the trend among Androids has been a retreat to middle-tier phones around $300. Android makers have also focused on high volume but very low-value sales to emerging countries, where many users can barely afford to pay the equivalent of $99 for a phone. These markets are likely to be hit very hard by economic distress, slowing the replacement cycle and delaying purchases.

Apple’s installed base won’t be the hardest hit by economic turmoil

As the impact of economic turmoil caused by the current pandemic begins to unfold, it sure appears that that hardest hit will be those already struggling to justify any new purchase of any kind, rather than those who can finance a new purchase and easily afford to have the nicest phone they want while their other spending plans on vacations, restaurants, sporting events, concerts, and other discretionary spending on entertainment is curtailed by quarantines and lockdowns.

Apple’s segment of the market that has been paying an average of nearly $800 for new iPhones, including almost a third of its buyers who sprung for a $999 and up iPhone 11 Pro over the last quarter, are the least likely to be materially affected by a temporary economic downturn occurring this spring.

That suggests a continuation of trends we’ve already seen that show that people overall are spending much less on many things while continuing to spend about the same —or more —on consumer electronics and related purchases. Being stuck at home has reinforced the value of having access to remote learning, video communications, entertainment, and social interaction that many people get from their smartphone or iPad.

Apple has also been perfectly positioned to benefit from increased App Store sales of games and productivity apps as users are forced to work at home and entertain themselves in isolation. The timing of all of Apple’s new Services offerings seems brilliant in retrospect, with Apple Card, TV+, News+, and Apple Arcade all reaching solid completion just prior to the world locking down with pandemic restrictions.

So while many are expecting and perhaps even hoping that the COVID-19 pandemic will be ruinous to Apple, it’s useful to recall how well Apple performed in 2008, and in particular how well it performed in comparison to its peers. Apple would rather have the global economy humming along without these problems, but it sure appears to be far better positioned than any other consumer tech company.

Further, unlike companies that were barely making money before the pandemic struck and are now unable to sell or offer much of anything, Apple has an installed base of nearly a billion users who are already signed up for a variety of ongoing subscriptions. And while many of its retail stores are closed, it’s still easy to order new hardware. Apple didn’t even have much difficulty in attracting attention to its launch of a series of new products over the last few weeks of the pandemic. Other companies can’t claim that.

Shifting optics of “iPhone 12” launch

Over the last several holiday seasons, the same sources that are now trying to suggest that “iPhone 12” might be delayed were working to suggest that cheaper phones from Huawei and others were causing buyers to shift to Android. They have even promoted the idea that buyers in China were actively boycotting iPhones out of patriotism. But these supposed trends didn’t materialize as predicted.

Instead, Apple’s statements on the matter were correct: buyers were delaying their purchases because of economic uncertainty and unfavorable currency exchange rates. When Apple and its carrier and retail partners introduced more favorable pricing with lower taxes and new options for financing, Apple’s sales in China rebounded, even despite a big push by Huawei to ship more phones into the domestic Chinese market to make up for slower sales elsewhere.

Economic uncertainty and the increasingly strong dollar will continue to work against Apple and make its business challenging. But the pandemic also offers a reprieve from the pressure to constantly sell more iPhones than the previous year. Simply performing as well as possible will be more acceptable this year given the circumstances. Additionally, it will set up Apple with an even more favorable comparison next year, once the world begins to get a better handle on how to cope with pandemics, even if the novel coronavirus continues to come back seasonally.

So rather than being seen as a do-or-die “supercycle” that is entirely dependent on 5G or Apple’s LiDAR or some other feature, this year’s launch of “iPhone 12” has the relaxed pressure to simply be a success for being held on time.

In parallel, the recent launch of iPhone SE means that Apple will be attracting increased numbers of upgrades from older phones and from Android users, an impact that might dilute its average selling price, but will likely increase its unit volumes. Because so many market groups focus on unit volumes over the more important revenues and size of the installed base, this could further blunt negativity directed at Apple’s lower sales.

In reducing the expectations of Apple’s “iPhone 12” launch, it will be incrementally easier for Apple to bring its new 5G phone to market and begin rolling out an installed base of devices using A14 chips and LiDAR sensors capable of enhancing augmented reality features. Any deferred purchases will very likely shift to the next iPhone cycle, rather than shifting to Android, just as we saw over the last two years of economic uncertainty focused within China.

Apple’s “iPhone 12” launch will also be supported by mobile carriers globally who have been working to roll out initial 5G coverage. Because Apple’s installed base of buyers represents the cream of the market—users who are most likely to spend more for faster mobile data service—carriers will continue to promote iPhones out of their own interest, beyond that already contractually obligated by Apple.

Further, retailers hoping to juice their holiday sales after a disastrous year will no doubt be promoting Apple products just as they have in previous years, knowing that getting people in the door to buy an iPhone or iPad will likely also result in other sales. This helps to clarify why Apple won’t be casually delaying its “iPhone 12” launch into 2021 —it’s not really an option.

7 Emerging Mobile App Design Trends to Follow in 2020

Doubtlessly, Mobile internet usage has hit enormous momentum ever since it kicked off. Today around 2.73 billion individuals are using it, with the numbers rapidly rising. In this aspect, mobile applications have absolutely revolutionized the way for businesses to market their products, provide value to their clients and earn their loyalty.

Across the world, Small and large scale businesses from Startups to Multi-National giants are making effective use of appealing mobile apps to attract more clients and increase their sales. For growing businesses, it’s indeed challenging to make a mark on the app market due to the relentless competition on the Apple App Store/Google play store. However, if your mobile application has an eye-catching design with attractive features, you will be definitely able to stand out.

Indeed, in such a competitive market, only those application can thrive that possess the most relevant and cutting-edge technologies. Although, the ultimate look of the app is based upon several features, including business requirements and the user needs, however, the most significant aspect in this regard is its design. The IT professionals and graphic designers must be well-aware of the trending design and innovation in order to develop a vibrant application.

Why is following an implementing the latest App Design so important?

Taking inspiration and implementing recent application design is of great importance for any business. The biggest benefit that comes with it is that it outsmarts your competition. With it, your application will literally trend on Apple App Store/ Google Play Store. Also, it allows smoother navigation which means a better user experience, and better reviews. It will make your brand trustworthy and will build lasting relationships with your users. Consequently, people will prefer to choose your brand over instead of your competitors.

Developing an attractive app design isn’t optional anymore- It’s essential! Mobile app design trend keeps on getting changing, and if you are going to be stuck with an outdated design, it will not attract clients. You must coordinate with your developers to constantly update the application with recent design trends. This allows higher engagements from your users. A latest and updated application design influences better user experience, which ultimately gives your application a distinct and definite branding.


Top 7 Emerging App design Trends of 2020

Do you also want to steal your users’ heart with your mobile app? Fortunately, you are at the very right place as here presented and discussed seven emerging designs that are trending in 2020, which your users will love!

Let’s get started!

Voice-activated Interfaces

Indeed no one prefers typing long commands. Consequently, Voice control has become a major trend in the industry and is being readily absorbed by companies. User convenience is every company’s top-most priority and allowing voice interface development is the best strategy any business may adopt.

We all are aware of the incredible success of various voice-controlled smart speakers integrated into our home systems and multifunctional mobile devices. Therefore, voice user interface is the next thing in the market. This technology may be widely developed for popular E-commerce and streaming multimedia, along with other categories. Microsoft’s Cortana and Google maps are already using this technology for their best benefit.

The primary reason for its tending is that they extend the possibility of using the application in other situations, such as while driving, cooking, ironing or even exercising. However, voice recognition still requires experience and developments as when used under certain conditions such as open space, and it may not work ideal.

Personalized Content Recommendation

Content Personalization is one of the most significant trends that you must follow in 2020. Content in the application must meet users’ interest and avoid sharing non-interested content. Various surveys conclude that user prefers buying from a company that provides them with a personalized experience. A good user experience eventually leads to improved brand Loyalty & better digital engagement, which elaborates the reason for it being one of the trending mobile app designs of 2020.

The ultimate way to provides users with exceptional personalization is by leveraging the power of Artificial intelligence (AI). Designers must specifically focus on this to ensure maximum user personalization. They may adopt the following tactics including:

  • Behavioral profiling
  • SIC/NAICS codes
  • Machine learning
  • Geo-location
  • Geo-fencing

The most significant examples we have in this regard is of virtual stores lie Ali-express and Amazon, that  uses personalized data to suggest things someone may like such as products to buy. The more the user sees the content of their taste, the more they feel connected to your platform. Doubtlessly, this is the ultimate hack to make your business earn brand loyalty.

Animation & Micro-interactions

The right animation makes your application super catchy and vivid to the user. If you look at stats, you wouldn’t be amazed to find that successful applications definitely include sophisticated and attention-grabbing animations. Even minute elements such as changing the color of the button after the user hovers over it, or headings getting changed as you scroll down, make the interface more fluid and pleasant for the user. With that, the animation may also be used in different feature and functionalities of the app, including:

In order to provide Visual Feedback

  • Acts as a transition between Zoom Feature.
  • To lighten up the navigation.
  • Makes use of Parallax design.
  • Confirmation and user responses.
  • To show how system updates.
  • Help users in starting up.

Animations play a major role in branding, as they showcase the story of your business, products and help you stand out from the competitor. Meanwhile, micro-interactions are also available in most of the application, which is often unrecognizable by people but has a very significant impact. Even the simplest features like Messengers “Like” button, can make the app smooth and noticeable for users.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

AR and VR are indeed one of the hottest trends of 2020. AR allows you to transform specific functionalities from virtual to the real world. Fortunately, it isn’t new to the application design, as since last year many applications have already made use of it. It has been widely used the gaming and entertainment industries with games like Pokémon Go and Sky Siege. It is expected to work wonders in other categories as well including E-commerce, e-health and distance learning.

AR specifically focuses upon the interaction of real-life objects and works by speeding up the process of data accusation and implementation. Most importantly, its super simple to use as mobile users just need to position a camera in a specific way and it automatically overlaps the surrounding objects and sounds.

Similarly, Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR have also gained immense popularity as in the past few years. In VR, functionalities go beyond our phones and surrounding and can be located anywhere. Therefore, doubtlessly Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) together have entirely revolutionized the application development, and have successfully blended digital and the physical world.

An easy-to-eye Environment- Dark Theme

Most of us spend hours gazing at our phones every day, which eventually provoke severe damage to our eyes and brain. With an increased awareness among the general public regarding this concern, people now prefer dark mode themes in the application they use. In dark mode themes, the light (but not stark white) text is contrasted against dark-colored (black usually) backgrounds. This doesn’t just protect your eyes from strain, but comparatively uses less battery.

Not only that, but Dark theme may also give your application a visually stunning look, and will undoubtedly be able to grab users attention. The ideal blend of neon and glowing gradients, with bright colors against dark backgrounds, make elements pop up, which ultimately gives you application the perfect aesthetic look!

We have already witnessed how Designers of various social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and YouTube recently introduced dark themes on their platform, and indeed all of us loved it! Consequently, Dark theme is a must if you want to retain your users’ attention!

5G Technology –A Media Rich design

The trends in mobile app design are greatly affected by the quality of the Internet connection, and with recent plans to shift worldwide network from 4G to 5G, compatibility with a 5G technology has become an essential element for every application.

5G technology will amaze people by functioning programs super efficiently and smoothly. It will significantly reduce the loading time of application, thus improves overall quality. Also, such advancements will enable users to stream 4K/8K videos without lagging. The most incredible feature of 5G technology is the clarity of the user interface it provides. This allows developers to create a more vibrant and multimedia-rich platform. It may require some high budget to implement 5G in your application design, but it’s certainly worth it!

Captivating 3D graphics- To represent more information on the page

Undoubtedly, competing against an already established application is quite challenging, especially if you are new to the market. However, the ultimate way to give your competitors a tough time is my initiating 3D Graphics on your app. It allows designers to transfer much more information on the same page, and display more products. Not just that, 3D graphics also:

  • Eliminates the need for physical representation
  • Simplifies the perception of data
  • Describes the visualization of the product
  • Helps user to understand the specification of the product better.

When a three-dimensional image is portrayed on screen, it ultimately evolves user experience. It creates a physical world for the user and develops a better connection with the app. Although, when 3D graphics are overly done, it may slow down the loading time. But, if done the right way, it can certainly work wonders for any developer!


2020 is and will be the year of innovation! The new techs and latest design will literally blow you away. Hence, your developer must keep on following the recent trends, and make effective updates accordingly. The convenience of the user must be any applications ultimate priority; therefore, designers must focus upon verbal and visual interfaces.

The above mentioned trends are being already used by various businesses, and the results so far are incredible. Therefore, if well implemented, they can help you stand out in the market! Always remember, better design means more engagement, more conversions and eventually more sales!

A Guest Contribution by PackagingWin

Usman Akram is a passionate blogger who writes on various subjects. However, packaging being something he operates in regularly fascinates him the most. He’s operating a packaging blog, PackagingWin where you can find inspiration about various products packaging and unique design.

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Build your smart office of tomorrow

smart office

The notion of a smart home is one that has been gradually catching on and gaining momentum. Using home automation, you can create an environment in your home that is more comfortable, more aesthetic, and even more energy-efficient. Nowhere does this make more sense than in a “smart office.”

In business, making small changes to processes and routines can potentially shave a huge amount of wasted time off your days and weeks. 

Plus, you get to feel like Tony Stark!

Now more of us are working from home, creating a smart office that automatically adapts to our needs can help us to complete more work more quickly, and be left with more time at the end of the day to spend with our families. Plus, you get to feel like Tony Stark!

Read on then, and we’ll explore how to create the perfect “smart office.”

Smart office gadgets and features

Smart display: Echo Show

Echo Show Smart Display 16x9

Smart displays include the likes of the Echo Show or a Google Home. These give you access to a virtual assistant with the added benefit of a display. Not only will this allow you to control many of the other elements of your smart office with just your voice, but you can also look up facts, perform quick sums, broadcast to other parts of your home (“I need coffee!”), set timers (great for pomodoro), and more.

Also read: 10 Best Google apps to maximize your experience!

Which smart display you go for will ultimately come down to personal preference and the appliances you already have in place. I’m partial to a little bit of Alexa myself.

The link below bundles in an Echo Flex, so you can voice-control your smart office setup from other parts of the house, too.

Buy From Amazon

Smart lighting: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance 16x9

The right lighting is crucial not only for ensuring you can see what you’re doing, but also for setting the right mood and ambience conducive to productivity. Color psychology shows us colors can alter our mood and mental state, so using colored lighting might just be an effective strategy for creating a highly productive environment.

Also read: A guide to home office lighting

Using these Hue lightbulbs combined with an Alexa Show or Google Home, you’ll be able to create profiles for your room. With a single tap or command, you can define an entire lighting set up. You can use calming colors when you want to be creative and relaxed, or brighter colors when you want to be more switched on and focussed.

Buy From Amazon

Smart plug: Wemo Mini Smart Plug

Wemo Home Office Lighting 16x9

A Wemo smart plug will let you add “dumb” features to your smart office setup. By plugging any appliance into a smart plug, you’ll be able to command it to switch on or off with your voice or a timer.

Now you can add a desk light to the setup, or any other appliance. How about some music, a fan, or an air filter?

Buy From Amazon

Echo Flex with Smart Motion Sensor

Echo Flex Motion Sensor Smart Home Office 16x9

Want to make your smart office way smarter for just $35? The Echo Flex is a compact and affordable smart speaker that comes with a number of useful accessories (you choose which one when you buy). One of those accessories is the Smart Motion Sensor. With this, you can boot up your computer and turn on your lighting as soon as you enter your office!

Buy From Amazon

Powerline Ethernet adapter: TP-Link AV600

Best home office products TP Link Ethernet Adapter 16x9

Using a Powerline adapter, you can get a wired WiFi connection from a normal power outlet in your office. The benefit of this is firstly that you can get a faster and more reliable WiFi connection in your office, and secondly that you can now use wake on LAN. Wake on LAN means that when your computer is powered down (on standby), you can send a command from a smartphone or even a smart device like Alexa in order to power it back on! What that means, is that you can wake your computer with a voice command.

Also read: 5 home office accessories under $50 you’ll want to invest in

To learn how to set this up, head over to the post I wrote a few years back. You can even use a similar trick to control your home office remotely from a coffee shop. You know, once you’re allowed out of the house again!

Could you be any more Tony Stark?

Buy From Amazon

Gesture control: Leap Motion

Leap Motion for Smart Office 16x9

If you were really Tony Stark though, you’d be able to control your PC with gestures. While you won’t be building an Iron Man suit out of holograms just yet, there was a device that would let you do something similar. The Leap Motion was a promising plug-and-play hand-tracking system that let you do all kinds of cool things such as controlling a mouse by pointing, or turning on your laptop with a wave of your hand.

Unfortunately, the Leap Motion has fallen off the map. With no continued support, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this product anymore. Still though, it’s a neat inclusion if you have the money and want a fun bit of novelty. And you can still find them on Amazon.

Buy From Amazon

Coffee machine: Smarter Coffee

Smarter Coffee Smart Office 16x9

While smart lighting might be a nice feature for your office, that isn’t what really gets things done. No, the real MVP of any office is a coffee machine! Place a coffee machine right there in your office and you’ll never need to leave.

Also read: Home office setup: How to separate your work space so you stay productive

Smarter Coffee takes coffee into the 21st century by adding smart features and voice assistant support. So now you can simply tell Alexa you want an Americano yesterday and she’ll sort that out for you! If you like your coffee white, then you’ll need a mini-fridge too. Admittedly, that’s a slippery slope!

Buy From Amazon




In-camera 8K at 30fps, 4K up to 120fps

We already knew a new Canon EOS R camera was coming, the R5, but now Canon has released yet more minutae details about just what this full-frame system camera can do.

And it’s all about video capture prowess with image stabilisation. Capable of capturing 8K raw footage up to 30fps in-camera, this is the kind of system that will be used in high-end productions. It shows that Canon is, in part, crossing over what it offers to the pro market – there’s overlap here in what you’ll find in the company’s EOS C range, for example.

So what about the finer details of what the R5’s video will do? Here’s a summary:

  • 8K 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265)
  • 4K up to 120fps 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log (H.265) or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ (H.265) 
  • 4:2:2 10-bit in Canon Log or 4:2:2 10-bit HDR PQ output via HDMI at 4K 59.94fps
  • 5-axis optical image stabilisation – enabling Lens IS & camera IBIS to be combined
  • Dual card slots: 1x CFexpress, 1x SD (UHS-II)

All video modes will be compatible with the company’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF for autofocus. There’s also animal AF to recognise dogs, cats and birds, in addition to face detection.

All in all, given its 12fps stills shooting capability, this is starting to sound like the higher-end EOS R camera that Canon has been hinting about since the inception of the product line.

Comcast waives data cap until at least June 30 in response to pandemic

The back of a Comcast van driving along a street in Sunnyvale, California.
Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018.

After promising 60 days without data caps and overage fees for all customers, Comcast has decided to extend the data-cap waiver until at least June 30.

Comcast announced the data-cap waiver on March 13, saying the waiver would last until May 13 to help customers deal with the pandemic. Today, Comcast said it will extend the data-cap waiver and other pandemic-related changes “through June 30 to help ensure students can finish out the school year from home and remain connected to the Internet during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Also extended to June 30 is Comcast’s promise not to disconnect Internet, mobile, or home phone service and to waive late fees if customers “contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills during this period.”

Comcast also previously made its $10-per-month Internet Essentials plan free to new low-income customers for two months. With today’s announcement, that offer for new low-income customers will remain on the table until June 30. Additionally, Comcast will keep its Wi-Fi hotspots open to anyone who needs them through June 30.

“Our services have never been more important, and we’re doing everything we can to keep people connected to the Internet,” Comcast cable-division CEO Dave Watson said.

Normally, Comcast imposes its 1TB monthly data cap in 27 states but not in the Northeast United States where Comcast faces strong competition from Verizon’s uncapped fiber-to-the-home FiOS service. In capped areas, Comcast charges an extra $10 for each additional block of 50GB, or $50 more each month for unlimited data. Home Internet usage has gone up during the pandemic, but Comcast said recently that its network has enough capacity to handle the surge.

Verizon extends no-disconnection pledge

Verizon today extended a pledge to keep customers connected through June 30. “This means we will neither terminate service nor charge late fees to our postpaid wireless, residential, and small business customers that notify us of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” Verizon said. Customers must contact Verizon to avoid losing service if they can’t pay their bills.

Verizon said last week that it’s giving wireless customers an extra 15GB of data in May.

More than 700 providers have signed the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge, which includes not terminating service to customers who cannot pay because of the pandemic, waiving late fees for customers affected by the pandemic, and opening Wi-Fi hotspots to the public.

Like Comcast, AT&T went beyond the FCC pledge to also waive data caps on home Internet service during the pandemic. But AT&T hasn’t announced whether it will extend its cap waiver past May 13.

Update: AT&T announced it will continue to waive overage charges for postpaid wireless customers until June 30 but didn’t say whether it will extend the cap-waiver for home Internet service. Like Verizon, AT&T extended its no-disconnection pledge until June 30.