Introducing Teams for Feedback Assistant. – News


You can now view and respond to feedback filed by your team members if you’re part of an organization in the Apple Developer Program, the Apple Developer Enterprise Program, Apple School Manager, or Apple Business Manager. And you’ll still have a personal inbox for separate submissions, with the choice to move feedback to your team inbox at any time.

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Chinese bank requires foreign firm to install app with covert backdoor


Chinese bank requires foreign firm to install app with covert backdoor

A large, multinational technology company got a nasty surprise recently as it was expanding its operations to China. The software a local bank required the company to install so it could pay local taxes contained an advanced backdoor.

The cautionary tale, detailed in a report published Thursday, said the software package, called Intelligent Tax and produced by Beijing-based Aisino Corporation, worked as advertised. Behind the scenes, it also installed a separate program that covertly allowed its creators to remotely execute commands or software of their choice on the infected computer. It was also digitally signed by a Windows trusted certificate.

Researchers from Trustwave, the security firm that made the discovery, have dubbed the backdoor GoldenSpy. With system-level privileges to a Windows computer, it connected to a control server located at ningzhidata[.]com, a domain Trustwave researchers said is known to host other variations of the malware. The backdoor included a variety of advanced features designed to gain deep, covert, and persistent access to infected computers.

According to Thursday’s post, those features include:

  • GoldenSpy installs two identical versions of itself, both as persistent autostart services. If either stops running, it will respawn its counterpart. Furthermore, it utilizes an exe protector module that monitors for the deletion of either iteration of itself. If deleted, it will download and execute a new version. Effectively, this triple-layer protection makes it exceedingly difficult to remove this file from an infected system.
  • The Intelligent Tax software’s uninstall feature will not uninstall GoldenSpy. It leaves GoldenSpy running as an open backdoor into the environment, even after the tax software is fully removed.
  • GoldenSpy is not downloaded and installed until a full two hours after the tax software installation process is completed. When it finally downloads and installs, it does so silently, with no notification on the system. This long delay is highly unusual and a method to hide from the victim’s notice.
  • GoldenSpy does not contact the tax software’s network infrastructure (i-xinnuo[.]com), rather it reaches out to ningzhidata[.]com, a domain known to host other variations of GoldenSpy malware. After the first three attempts to contact its command and control server, it randomizes beacon times. This is a known method to avoid network security technologies designed to identify beaconing malware.
  • GoldenSpy operates with SYSTEM level privileges, making it highly dangerous and capable of executing any software on the system. This includes additional malware or Windows administrative tools to conduct reconnaissance, create new users, escalate privileges, etc.

Thursday’s post said that Trustwave threat analysts identified “similar activity” at a second company but don’t have many other details. The security firm has found variations of GoldenSpy that date back to late 2016, but the first indication the backdoor was actually used in the wild is in April, when the campaign against the tech company began. Researchers still don’t know the scope, purpose, or actors behind the threat. Trustwave didn’t identify the two companies that encountered GoldenSpy or the local Chinese bank that required that Intelligent Tax be installed. Representatives of Aisino Corporation didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment for this post.



Apple reportedly evaluating Apple Silicon-powered macOS on iPhone


A leaker reports that Apple is working on Apple Silicon prototypes with macOS running on the iPhone, which would allow a user to plug an iPhone into a dock or monitor, and have a full desktop experience.

Apple has previously denied that its Catalyst project means that the Mac and iOS are coming together. However, now that the Mac will be running on Apple Silicon, a leaker says that the company is prototyping macOS on an iPhone.

“It is ready,” the leaker continues, “they keep working on prototypes on the side, and are using this time to make it even better… but have 2 options ready (will go with only 1).”

“They are just waiting for other projects to fall into place,” says the leaker. “Is 95% sure it’s coming, but not 100%. It depends on a lot of factors.”

Asked about whether the plan was for a dual-boot device, like Boot Camp allowing macOS or Windows on Intel Macs, MauriQHD said it “is more of a hybrid, I would say, but yes, at the very least, that would be the base of it all.”

There have been attempts to get desktop operating systems onto phones before. The most notable effort is Samsung’s DeX which was intended to make the Galaxy S8 become a desktop Chromebook-like machine, instead of displaying the handheld version of the operating system on the display.

Also, a separate Project Linda was aimed at making the Razer Phone become an Android laptop too, and was demonstrated at CES 2018.

Leaker MauriQHD has very track record as it pertains to Apple, but does have a good one with other technology firms. The Twitter thread continues with more information, although at times MauriQHD changes to say that the prototype is running on an iPad rather than an iPhone.

MauriQHD references both of these in the leak and says that Apple’s two prototypes follow similar ideas of having a dockable system or making the phone run macOS. Apple has previously been reported as looking at making the iPhone become an accessory for a MacBook Pro, replacing its trackpad.





BehavioSec’s Zero Trust Protection Strengthens Mobile and Pandemic Recovery Programs


SAN FRANCISCO–()–BehavioSec, the first vendor to pioneer behavioral biometrics, is positioned for strong growth as post-pandemic mobile shifts and evolving cyber threats highlight greater demand for deep authentication and anti-fraud capabilities delivering increased trust without breaking the user experience. With contactless, mobile-optimized shopping, financial services and business productivity on the rise, organizations are rethinking how to verify online identities with greater accuracy and lower friction, as chronic abuse of stolen passwords and other credentials persists. BehavioSec’s intuitive behavioral biometrics technology meets enhanced authentication demands by delivering zero trust safeguards authenticating individuals based on users’ typing patterns, touchscreen activity and cursor movements, beyond vulnerable passwords. Authenticating users seamlessly in the background without proprietary hardware or other tokens reduces fraud risks and gives BehavioSec customers a competitive edge.

“We’re witnessing a seismic shift in digital interactions and expectations as users become more acclimated to working, shopping and interacting online, transforming not only digital services but also what customers expect from the fintech and e-commerce experience,” said BehavioSec Vice President of Products Jordan Blake. “But digital adoption isn’t the only thing accelerating. Cyber scams are also on the rise as criminals seek to take advantage of new apps, services and consumer fear and uncertainty in the wake COVID-19. Businesses are increasingly challenged in this environment to provide strong customer authentication without customer friction. That means a more adaptive approach to validating online identities that meets the needs of both companies and consumers, and one that can be achieved through behavioral biometrics.”

Months of unprecedented pandemic disruptions are accelerating the world’s shift to wider remote work and making mobile devices the center of essential business and personal services. Fintech platforms are helping disburse aid from U.S. government stimulus programs. The IRS delayed U.S. Tax Day to July 15, 2020, giving affected consumers and businesses more time to prepare tax returns and use software, virtual consultations and mobile apps, as office closures and quarantines continue through summer. Recent studies show customers are using their bank’s mobile app more frequently now than ever before. These digital trends aren’t just limited to banking. An April Mastercard poll found a high consumer preference for contactless payments; a finding further evidenced as consumers choose more often to shop online. Unfortunately, extra friction resulting from authentication measures meant to protect them can leave those same users cold with 28% abandoning online purchases due to forgotten usernames or passwords as reported by FICO.

Meanwhile, cyber criminals continue to adapt attack vectors to exploit this digitally focused framework. The FBI warns of scammers exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to steal money and fraudsters targeting the popularity of mobile finance applications. This puts even more pressure on digital service providers to reduce the risk of fraud and account takeover (ATO) by implementing stronger authentication and anti-fraud safeguards, without imposing undue friction and stress on users that breaks the mobile experience for payments and productivity.

BehavioSec customers have a way to set themselves apart in crowded and demanding mobile-first markets by adopting deeper authentication and a simplified user experience through behavioral biometrics. Unlike traditional authentication technologies, the BehavioSec platform continuously authenticates users in real time based on unique physical behaviors difficult for criminals to spoof, steal or socially engineer. Organizations across industry sectors relying on mobile and digital transformation gain the secure engagement that businesses require – and consumers expect – with dramatically reduced account lockouts, HelpDesk calls, password resets and other friction.

For more information on how BehavioSec solutions can give the digital services you offer a competitive advantage visit: https://www.behaviosec.com/behavioral-biometric-solutions/.

About BehavioSec

BehavioSec is the first vendor to pioneer behavioral biometrics. The company’s Behavioral Biometrics Platform is widely deployed across Global 2000 companies for its proven ability to dramatically reduce account fraud and data theft. Founded in 2008 out of groundbreaking academic research, BehavioSec technology allows companies to continuously verify digital identities with superior precision, in real-time. Strengthened with the leadership of serial entrepreneurs and experienced industry professionals, the BehavioSec team now spans the world, providing security while preserving a rich digital experience throughout web and mobile apps. BehavioSec is the only enterprise-grade vendor used in global deployments with some of the largest companies, reducing manual review whilst safeguarding millions of users and billions of transactions. BehavioSec investors include Forgepoint Capital, Cisco, ABN AMRO, Conor Ventures and Octopus Ventures. BehavioSec is headquartered in San Francisco, CA and has global operations throughout Europe and Asia Pac. For more information, visit www.behaviosec.com.



Announcing the 2020 Apple Design Awards


The Apple Design Awards celebrate innovation, ingenuity, design excellence, and outstanding technical achievement. A WWDC tradition, the ADAs highlight those who take thoughtful and creative approaches to their apps and games, giving people new ways to work, play, or imagine things that were never before possible.

“We’ve been awarding great design for more than two decades now, and each year’s winners set new standards for others to emulate,” said John Geleynse, Senior Director of Evangelism and longtime host of the Apple Design Awards.

This year’s winners are no different: Their apps are beautiful, intuitive, captivating and delightful. They spring from a deep understanding of and empathy for the people they’re intended to serve. They are unique, exhaustively refined, and crafted with care and attention to detail.




  • WWDC20

2020 Apple Design Awards

The Apple Design Awards recognize excellence in design and innovation for apps and games across all of Apple’s platforms. Meet the 2020 winners.




  • WWDC20

The winners of the 2020 Apple Design Awards

The Apple Design Awards recognize excellence in design and innovation for apps and games across all of Apple’s platforms. Join us as we celebrate the 2020 winners.

“Winning apps require a lot of work,” said Geleynse, “And we want to honor the effort, dedication, creativity, and new ideas that lead to innovative solutions like these.”

This year, the honor continues beyond an Apple Design Award and FaceTime celebration: Starting this Friday and each week thereafter, the Developer app will feature exclusive interviews with each winner about their creative process and how they brought their bold and distinctive ideas to life.

Take a quick look at this year’s Apple Design Award winners, along with a few choice highlights from our upcoming interviews.

Majd Taby, Darkroom

“We’ve tried to abstract away all the complexity of photo editing — no import, no export, hiding away the complexity unless you ask for it… the app is much more powerful and complex than the design… that’s just part of the ongoing design challenge of trying to make something that’s usable and powerful at the same time.”

Eran Hilleli, Looom

“The design thought of Looom is the flow first — experience first… Trying to make drawn animation exist in some tool that was almost like a Gameboy… something you can kick back and relax, which is not something that, usually, animation is about.”

István Csanády, Shapr3D

“I think that great interaction design is… always a lot of blood, sweat, and tears… There are no shortcuts because this is something that you can’t really figure out. You just have to observe how your users actually want to interact your with design or with your software… we did hundreds of prototypes, interaction prototypes — you can step-by-step get to the right solution… it took us four and a half years to get to this level of polish.”

David William Hern, StaffPad

“The core tenet of the app is really: How is this helping me write music? How is this making my day nicer and better and hopefully making me write better music? If it can help me do that, and at least if I finish a project and I don’t feel exhausted at the end of it, then I think that every idea has been worth it. But there’s always more to do. It’s never done.”

Simon Flesser, Sayonara Wild Hearts

“This is a game that is very much about the music, right?… It started very differently, with a much more sinister tone. But then as we were playing our prototype, randomly, this really energetic, pop song came on in the background… And it sort of just clicked. I literally said, ‘This is it.’”

Jenova Chen, Sky: Children of the Light

“With very small changes in the design, you can change how [the player] behaves, how they treat each other in your game. I think it’s your responsibility to think about: How are these players going to interact with your app, with your game, you know, on a daily basis? Is that healthy for them? Is that going to make them be thankful… rather than having resentment of the experience?”

Philipp Stollenmayer, Song of Bloom

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell what the game is trying to tell you. Some images are so abstract that you have to make up your own interpretation. To help the game communicate on every available channel, it was important to give it another sense… from the haptic vibrations, it helps you to understand if this is an active scene or a calm one — you get a really nice sense for the mood.”

Sam Rosenthal, Where Cards Fall

“A lot of the game feels very melancholic but at the same time — it’s a hopeful game. So the app icon is our main character in the winter — which is the present day — looking up… It is not somebody that is lost in the past but somebody that maybe has learned from what happened, has reflected and is looking towards what could be next.”


Read more about the Apple Design Award winners on Apple Newsroom and the App Store.

Read more about the Apple Design Award winners on Apple Newsroom

Read more about the Apple Design Award winners on the App Store



Search engine startup asks users to be the customer, not the product


Neeva doesn't even have a logo yet, let alone any useful screenshots—so enjoy this remixed version of a 1940s coin-operated toilet cover dispenser instead.
Enlarge / Neeva doesn’t even have a logo yet, let alone any useful screenshots—so enjoy this remixed version of a 1940s coin-operated toilet cover dispenser instead.

In November 2017, Sridhar Ramaswamy—the head of Google’s $95 billion advertising arm—left the company after a scandal concerning advertisements for major corporations found on YouTube videos that put children in questionable situations. Ramaswamy told The New York Times that shortly after that incident, he decided that he needed to do something different in his life—because “an ad-supported model had limitations.”

Ramaswamy’s startup company, Neeva, is that “something different”—and though it, too, is a search engine, it seeks to sidestep some of Google’s problems by avoiding the ads altogether. Ramaswamy says that the new engine won’t show ads and won’t collect or profit from user data—instead, it will charge its users a subscription fee.

Neeva’s approach follows an old truism that says if you pay for something, you’re a customer—but if you get it for free, you’re a product. That’s likely to be a very difficult sell, to a public that has come to expect a service to be “free” and doesn’t often care very much about privacy aspects. Even if we handwave the difficulty of acquiring a market, other privacy-focused players are expressing significant doubt about Neeva’s approach.

Privacy-focused competitors have doubts

Search engine DuckDuckGo is probably the best-known privacy-focused Google competitor. DuckDuckGo serves ads but doesn’t track its users individually—its CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, says the ads are a practical necessity. “If you want the most impact to help the most people with privacy, you have to be free,” he said, “because Google will be free forever.”

However, DuckDuckGo may not be the most relevant comparison to Neeva. The new search engine is planned to be a second-tier provider, with public results sourced from Bing, Weather.com, Intrinio, and Apple. It also plans to offer its users the ability to link cloud accounts such as Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, and Dropbox. In addition to providing search results directly from these private sources, Neeva will include that data in building a profile to personalize search results for each user.

Startpage is a closer analogue to Neeva’s proposed model. Like Neeva, Startpage sources search results externally—in its case, directly from Google. Unlike Neeva, Startpage still shows Google ads and collects a cut of the proceeds. But it shows those ads without attempting to personalize them for the user—no profile is built, and the user’s potentially identifying information is stripped from the queries passed along to Google as well.

Startpage CEO Robert E.G. Beens reached out to Ars by email shortly after Neeva’s launch. He expressed extreme skepticism about Neeva’s model—he describes the connections to private data, personal profile building, and long-term data retention as “a hacker’s dream, and a user’s nightmare.” He expressed equally strong opinions about Neeva’s actual privacy policy, calling it “a joke—and not a funny one,” after remarking that “marketing messages can claim almost anything, but a privacy policy has legal status.”

We should note that there are two different sections of Neeva’s site that appear to address privacy concerns—a Digital Bill of Rights prominently featured in the company’s about page, and the official Privacy Policy, linked more austerely from the footer of each page.

Problematic privacy policy

Neeva’s Digital Bill of Rights appears to be just the sort of marketing message Beens alluded to. It makes lofty statements about users’ rights to privacy, controls to data collection, data usage transparency, and user ownership of their own data. It further declares that companies in general should respect those rights—but it makes no outright promises about whether or how Neeva will respect them. The closest thing to a concrete statement of policy on the page is a line at the bottom stating “we at Neeva stand by [these values], in solidarity with you.”

We do <strong>not</strong> share, disclose, or sell your personal information with third parties. Except when we do.
Enlarge / We do not share, disclose, or sell your personal information with third parties. Except when we do.

Neeva’s Privacy Policy, by contrast, is a standard legal document and reads like one. It’s also much more concrete and lays out some troubling details that sound opposed to the lofty ideals expressed in Neeva’s Digital Bill of Rights. The section Disclosing Your Information to Third Parties even seems to contradict itself.

Neeva opens that section by saying it does not share, disclose, or sell your personal information with third parties “outside of the necessary cases below”—but those necessary cases include “Affiliates,” with the very brusque statement that Neeva “may share personal information with our affiliated companies.”

Although the subsections on both Service Providers and Advertising Partners are hedged with usage limitations, there are no such limits given for data shared with “Affiliates.” The document also provides no concrete definition of who the term “Affiliates” might refer to, or in what context.

Long-term private data retention

More security-conscious users should also be aware of Neeva’s Data Retention policy, which simply states “we store the personal information we receive as described in this Privacy Policy for as long as you use our Services or as necessary to fulfill the purposes for which it was collected… [including pursuit of] legitimate business purposes.”

Given that the data collection may include direct connection to a user’s primary Google or Microsoft email account, this might amount to a truly unsettling volume of personal data—data that is now vulnerable to compromise of Neeva’s services, as well as use or sale (particularly in the case of acquisition or merger) by Neeva itself.

Current availability

Neeva is currently in limited beta testing and not available for general use. Interested potential users can join a waitlist to become an early tester.



Exxon Mobil offers 3% Daily Cash to Apple Card customers


Exxon is offering a big bonus to customers refueling their vehicles using Apple Card, with 3% Daily Cash provided for purchases made at Exxon and Mobil stations across the United States.

The first chain of gas stations to provide 3% Daily Cash rewards, customers paying at Exxon and Mobil locations will get 3% Daily Cash back from their purchases if they use Apple Card with Apple Pay. According to Exxon’s website, the reward is offered on all fuel, convenience store, and car wash purchases.

The bonus does not apply on purchases with third-party merchants who may be located within an Exxon or Mobil-branded location or the convenience store, such as car washes by independent firms.

There is seemingly no limit to the amount of Daily Cash that can be earned through the Exxon promotion, with it being listed as “unlimited 3% Daily Cash.” As an extra incentive, customers can use Apple Card as the payment method in the Exxon Mobil Rewards+ app, which not only enables payments at the pump as well as the gas station, but also earns extra ExxonMobile Rewards+ points.

Exxon Mobil joins a small number of retailers that offer 3% Daily Cash bonuses on purchases, including Nike, T-Mobile, Uber, Uber Eats, Walgreens, and Duane Reade. Buying hardware and accessories from Apple directly, as well as App Store purchases and subscriptions, using Apple Card and Apple Pay also apply the same 3% benefit.

Before, Apple Card customers would have been able to earn a maximum of 2% if they used Apple Card via Apple Pay at the terminal, or 1% by using their physical card.



Brainbit Launches Demo App with Multiple Meditation Levels


NEW YORK, June 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BrainBit, Inc, a Silicon Valley and NYC-based tech company specializing in smart wearable IoT devices for sport, wellness, and entertainment applications, has announced the launch of its Demo App for potential partners. The free app, available in both the iOS and Android versions, helps visualize and understand multiple processes inside the human brain, enhances meditation practice with brain insight, allows improvement of focus, play mind games, and much more.

The BrainBit app provides medical quality EEG data in real-time and allows monitoring of the current functional state of the brain (relaxation, concentration, or normal), set one of three available meditation levels, and analyze stages and quality of sleep (currently in demo mode).

“We’ve developed the BrainBit Demo app to show BrainBit’s advanced EEG capabilities and software development kit (SDK) to our potential partners. BrainBit provides accurate real-time data and analyzes the brain for applications in meditation, education, BCI (Brain Control Interface), health and fitness, sleep, games, and much more. We are looking to expand our partnership base with this new app,” said BrainBit’s advisor Valeri Melekhov.

The mobile app also features brain heatmapping, quantitative and qualitative indicators of brain activity, adjustable scale, and a timespan for signal monitoring, and artifacts detection.

The BrainBit demo app works in tandem with BrainBit EEG headband. BrainBit follows the international 10 – 20 electrode placement protocol, with electrodes mounted inside the headband. Each electrode makes direct contact at the T3 and T4 temporal lobe regions as well as at the O1 and O2 occipital lobe regions.

About BrainBit

Launched in 2016 with the vision to re-imagine the way consumer and industrial brain-sensing wearables perform and feel, BrainBit Inc specializes in portable, smart wearable IoT devices for prolonged wear and individual use for sport, e-sports/gaming, wellness and entertainment applications. BrainBit was founded by a team of scientists and engineers that have been developing professional medical equipment for over 25 years. Monitoring brain activity with BrainBit on a daily basis allows for enhancing routine and building a more complete healthy lifestyle.

Courtesy: BranBit



Augmented reality updates now available.


ARKit 4 introduces brand-new features that make the AR experiences in your apps even more lifelike. You can now access even more precise distance information gathered by the LiDAR Scanner on iPad Pro using Depth API, place AR experiences at a specific point in the world with Location Anchors, and more.

Learn more >



Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk3 review: Technological powerhouse



Sensor size. Yes, it still matters. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is part of the Micro Four Thirds format system, which uses a smaller sensor size than you’ll find in many other competitor DSLR and mirrorless cameras. But this sensor format is both its Achilles’ heel and its launchpad. 

On the one hand, a larger sensor would mean greater light gathering capacity and resolution potential. But it also means added bulk – something this Olympus doesn’t suffer. Its equivalent lenses are smaller too.

Furthermore, the E-M1 Mk3 brings a host of innovative tech, truly going to town with a bounty of shooting modes that make this camera a technological powerhouse that stands apart from its peers. 

An answer for everyday photography

  • Image Stabilisation up to 7.5EV
  • High-Res Shot up to 80MP
  • Live ND Shooting up to 5EV
  • Starry Sky AF 
  • Focusing Stacking in-camera
  • Pro-Capture High Time-lapse with 4K video output
  • Cine 4K video, plus Slow motion Full HD videos up to 120fps
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity 

The E-M1 MkIII packs a remarkable feature list – and we’ve only included the highlights above. That’s something Olympus continues to do: unearth new ideas that are genuinely useful. Scroll down page after page of the jungle of a menu system – in itself a problem that takes some navigational learning – and you’ll find heaps of extra goodies.

Pocket-lint

But it’s not just the shooting modes that are the reason to buy this camera. It also packs a super image stabilisation system, which is a key reason why the E-M1 Mark III is so easy to use. It’s now rated up to 7.5EV (depending on which lens is being used), so it’s completely possible to get sharp detail in handheld shots with an exposure a couple of seconds long. That’s truly mind-boggling stuff.   

This system is used in other creative ways too. Take in-camera focus stacking. This bracketing mode can composite multiple images at different focus planes to create a final image with greater depth of field. All in-camera, shot handheld, with manual control over the depth range and number of shots. It’s a macro photographer’s dream, plus that Micro Four Thirds sensor already has greater depth of field than larger sensor rivals at equivalent aperture settings.

Or how about High-Res Shot. Effective for static scenes, this uses the stabilisation system to move the focus by a pixel at a time, to multiply the sensor and capture a super-high resolution image. You’ll get a 50MP image (rather than the 20.4MP native resolution of that sensor). There’s also a tripod mode that results in an 80MP image – but you’ll need greater attention to technique with this mode, ensuring the camera (and subject) is very steady.

Pocket-lint

Live ND Shooting is now part of the arsenal too. It creates the effect of a Neutral Density filter up to a strength of 5EV – useful for reducing the incoming light equivalent, enabling longer exposures that may be useful when capturing intentional movement. You may think that reducing light for a small sensor is a bad idea, but for making long(er) exposure shots in bright light it’s useful.

Yet that’s the beauty of the technology – in a number of scenarios the E-M1 Mark III does away with the need for extra kit like a tripod or remote release or ND filter. It’s about making life easier for the image maker. 

Elsewhere there’s Starry Sky AF. If you are into astrophotography, this mode breathes new life into the Olympus system. It really does exactly what it says on the tin: you’ll get sharp detail of the stars every time, with ease. No need for manual focus, or for any degree of uncertainty or guesswork. 

Pocket-lint

Olympus continues to up the video game, too. We still have Cine 4K (24fps) and 4K (30fps) video recording, plus slow-motion HD video (up to 120fps).Crucially, there’s a flat colour profile and an ‘OMLog 400’ profile now included, meaning you can get a wonderful colour rendition.

Pro-Capture mode is perfect if your reactions are not quite up to scratch for action. When the shutter is half-pressed, the camera now buffers up to 35 shots before the shutter is fully pressed for capture, enabling a delayed reaction of up to 3 seconds.  

So, while the E-M1 Mark III has a smaller-scale sensor, there are so many occasions where shots are made possible by Olympus innovation.

King of action?

  • Electronic viewfinder (EVF), 2.36m-dot resolution
  • Fully articulated 3-inch touchscreen
  • 121-point phase-detection autofocus system
  • 18fps silent shutter with continuous AF
  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
  • 400,000 shutter cycles
  • 420-shot battery life
  • AF joystick control
  • Dual SD card slot

Last year Olympus launched a new flagship camera, the E-M1 X. The E-M1 inherits much of the best bits from this camera – but in a smaller form-factor that costs a lot less. Like the E-M1 X, its magnesium alloy body is weather-sealed to an IPX1 rating, making this one tough camera.

A battery life of 420-shots is par for the course. However, charging via USB is now possible, so you can keep the battery topped up on-the-go between shots by using a power bank. Also, with a vertical handgrip added that life can be doubled. The compatible batteries and handgrip are the same ones used in the E-M1 Mark II, which could make an upgrade kinder on the pocket.

Pocket-lint

It’s the viewing experience where the E-M1 Mark III is let down a little. There has been no update of the 2.36-million dot EVF. With a 0.74x magnification, the view is not quite as crisp or immersive as larger examples like the E-M1 X and Panasonic Lumix G9. That said, it’s still a good viewfinder with a solid 120fps refresh rate.

It’s not just the screen’s refresh rate that’s fast – the E-M1 Mark III gets out of the blocks at great speed. Start it up and the shutter and finder are all ready to respond with no real lag.

Wade through the AF modes; Eye Detection, Face Detection, Tracking. It all seems to work rapidly and for the best part reliably. For example, Tracking AF sticks to a subject very quickly – and even right up to the near edges of the frame. 

There is some groundwork to put in to ensure the best possible performance, though. For example, if you stick to the entire 121-AF-point array for a single subject, you’ll experience focus dropping to the background. The single point or 9-AF point options are more consistently sharp in our experience.

Pocket-lint

We tracked a bike moving at reasonable speed towards and away from the camera. Continuous Tracking AF did lag a fraction, especially closer to the camera, so we’re not top of the pile here. However, lateral movement is fine. 

Olympus has implemented an AF joystick. This is a tool that most action photographers want in order to select AF points quickly. Here it feels lovely and operates smoothly, whether viewing on screen or through the viewfinder. A side benefit of the joystick is that the limited functions of the touchscreen are less relevant. 

You also have some seriously impressive high-speed burst rates: 18fps silent shutter with continuous AF (silence is a dream for wildlife photography); and up to 60fps with the electronic shutter. For more intense action sequences, we feel the continuous ‘low’ burst rate of 9fps (mechanical shutter) is best, delivering consistently sharp AF and longer sequences. 

Pocket-lint

Yes, high-speed sequences are handled quickly by the new TruePic IX processor and can be recorded onto a UHS-II SD card. The second SD slot is not UHS-II compatible, so you’re relying on slot one for optimum performance.

Expect approximately 65 frames before the camera slows (when shooting Raw & JPEG – or approximately double that in JPEG only). No sooner have you finished a new sequence and the camera is virtually ready to go again – surely a benefit of smaller file sizes compared to rival cameras?

Micro Four Thirds sensor quality

  • 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds sensor
  • ISO 200-25,600 (extd. ISO 64)
  • Image Stabilisation to 7.5EV
  • TruePic IX processor

The elephant in the room is sensor size. We’re looking at the same 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds sensor as found in the E-M1 Mark II, with a sensitivity range of ISO 200 to ISO 25,600. Bottom line, there are other cameras for the same price packing larger sensors and more pixels. 

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Studio tests analysing resolution and image noise with its impact on detail will show that the E-M1 Mark III does not compete with those larger sensor cameras in like-for-like tests.  

Image noise is relatively absent in images up to ISO 800, though, and it’s really only from ISO 3200 that we’re starting to lose detail and contrast. Also, default noise reduction for JPEG images is heavy handed in our view.

However, images are not taken in a lab but in the real world – and that is where the Olympus technology (and vast choice of sharp, wide aperture lenses) comes into play.

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Image stabilisation up to 7.5EV means a slower shutter speed can be used, where appropriate. Any increase in light intake, such as through increasing shutter speed (or a fast aperture lens), can make a big difference in image quality. 

And what is the point of more pixels if the picture is not sharp in the first place? We feel that the E-M1 Mark III is very reliable across a wide range of scenarios to at least get focusing right and minimise motion blur. 

With regards to how images look, Olympus has long given us a beautifully warm and natural colour rendition. The plentiful Art Filters are more suited to the entry-level cameras, but here the natural picture mode with auto white balance are a great combo. Like some other camera systems, in JPEG images there is a small loss of detail in bright magentas/reds.

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We should also note that the evaluative metering system is one of the most reliable out there. You also get manual control at your fingertips through exposure compensation, plus a handy range of spot metering modes. 

Verdict

The more you use the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, the more you’ll appreciate how effective a camera it is. Its technological weaponry makes light work of macro, portraits, landscapes and wildlife – whatever you want to throw at this camera, it’ll eat it up, thanks to a huge range of creative shooting modes and a sensational image stabilisation system. 

This is all achieved in a truly compact and robust camera that slots into the hand perfectly and provides all the manual control needed, positioned exactly where you’d want it to be. Sure, the Micro Four Thirds sensor does have an impact on image quality – especially as light contrast fades – but the image quality is still good, and Olympus’ progress is focused elsewhere. 

The E-M1 Mark III is all about providing technology that further ensures shots are sharp, or effects that can be achieved easily in the camera. The range of lenses is great. The camera’s accurate face and eye detection is super. And we’ve already said it – but that stabilisation system will elevate your handheld shots to the next level.

The battle between sensor sizes just got more interesting. The third-gen OM-D E-M1 is a technological powerhouse that thinks differently.

Also consider

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Panasonic Lumix G9

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Another high-speed, weather-sealed camera with Micro Four Thirds sensor. Image quality is similar, plus you get each company’s best image stabilisation and a fully articulated rear LCD touchscreen. Both are robust cameras, with the G9 including a top LCD and a superior viewfinder.