Apple forgot about its own Studio Display in latest iOS update

It seems that Apple forgot about the A13 Bionic processor that powers its own Studio Display, as a recent firmware update caused the monitor to malfunction.

On April 8, Apple stopped signing iOS update 15.4 after it pushed down update 15.4.1 on March 30. Normally when an update stops signing, it’s not available anymore and can no longer be installed. But since Studio Display uses 15.4 and cannot install 15.4.1, this meant that over the weekend users were out of luck.

According to MacWorld, anyone with issues using the monitor was met with a message stating: “Apple Studio Display firmware update could not be completed. Try again in an hour. If the problem persists, contact an authorized Apple service provider.”

As of April 10, Apple has fixed the issue and users have reported that the firmware update was installed without a hitch. However, the tech giant will most likely need to overhaul the signing and un-signing of iOS updates since multiple products require various versions to operate.

This isn’t the first time the Apple Studio Display needed a fix. Soon after its launch, the monitor received an update in order to fix the low quality of its webcam, as reported by multiple outlets such as TechCrunch and The Wall Street Journal.


Analysis: the perils of an ecosystem

When you have a whole lot of products that are supposed to work with each other seamlessly, but they aren't running on the same system, problems are bound to pop up.

While Apple is known for a very tight product catalog that keeps the number of models currently being sold to a fairly lean lineup, Apple has been expanding its offerings in recent years.

Whether it's the Apple HomePod, the recent Apple AirPods 3, or any number of its MacBook and Mac products, Apple is having to juggle a lot more discrete systems that are supposed to work without the user even really thinking about it. It's kind of Apple's thing, so while it's kind of funny to think that Apple accidentally nerfed its own high-end workstation monitor by mistake, it's also symptomatic of a growing number of interlocking products where it becomes harder to predict what any single change to the system will have.

While Apple typically runs a tight ship, we wouldn't be surprised if we saw more of this kind of thing in the future. 

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Instagram is the latest app to get a ban in Russia

It was only a matter of time really: after blocking access to Facebook within its borders, Russia has now announced that another Meta-owned platform, Instagram, is also going to be banned in the country from the start of next week.

The decision was made by Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor (via Protocol) after Meta said it would permit certain calls for violence against invading Russian soldiers on Instagram and Facebook – something the Kremlin was not happy about.

Meta as a whole has now been labeled as an “extremist” organization by Russian authorities, and legal proceedings have been started against it. The block will begin on Monday, March 14.

For its part, Meta has emphasized that its relaxing of the rules around calls to violence are specific to the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They only apply in Ukraine itself, and only to Russian military forces, not the Russian people.

More blocks

“Our policies are focused on protecting people's rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country,” said Facebook's Nick Clegg in a statement. It's for “ordinary Ukranians expressing their resistance and fury” at the invasion, the statement continued.

As the war has played out over social media, Russia has been busy trying to stem the tide of anti-Russian sentiment while also spreading misinformation of its own. Twitter seems to be unofficially blocked or at least heavily restricted, while TikTok is only displaying content from Russia inside Russia.

On the other side, Russian state-owned media outlets have been banned from both the Google and Apple app stores. In recent days, pro-Russia accounts on social media have been suggesting scenes of suffering and devastation in Ukraine are actually staged.

With the wider world continuing to show anger and disbelief at the actions of Russia, the country finds itself increasingly isolated. Numerous tech companies, including Amazon and Microsoft, are no longer doing business in Russia as the war continues.

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Instagram is the latest app to get a ban in Russia

It was only a matter of time really: after blocking access to Facebook within its borders, Russia has now announced that another Meta-owned platform, Instagram, is also going to be banned in the country from the start of next week.

The decision was made by Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor (via Protocol) after Meta said it would permit certain calls for violence against invading Russian soldiers on Instagram and Facebook – something the Kremlin was not happy about.

Meta as a whole has now been labeled as an “extremist” organization by Russian authorities, and legal proceedings have been started against it. The block will begin on Monday, March 14.

For its part, Meta has emphasized that its relaxing of the rules around calls to violence are specific to the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They only apply in Ukraine itself, and only to Russian military forces, not the Russian people.

More blocks

“Our policies are focused on protecting people's rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country,” said Facebook's Nick Clegg in a statement. It's for “ordinary Ukranians expressing their resistance and fury” at the invasion, the statement continued.

As the war has played out over social media, Russia has been busy trying to stem the tide of anti-Russian sentiment while also spreading misinformation of its own. Twitter seems to be unofficially blocked or at least heavily restricted, while TikTok is only displaying content from Russia inside Russia.

On the other side, Russian state-owned media outlets have been banned from both the Google and Apple app stores. In recent days, pro-Russia accounts on social media have been suggesting scenes of suffering and devastation in Ukraine are actually staged.

With the wider world continuing to show anger and disbelief at the actions of Russia, the country finds itself increasingly isolated. Numerous tech companies, including Amazon and Microsoft, are no longer doing business in Russia as the war continues.

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The latest Microsoft Edge update might be the most puzzling yet

Microsoft is testing an update for Edge that will introduce a new Skype integration to the web browser.

In the latest early access build, available to members of the Edge Insider program, users can immediately launch into a Skype video call using the “Meet now” button positioned next to the address bar.

Clicking the button will open a pop-up panel that lets users name their meeting, create a link that others can use to dial in, and join a separate meeting using a link provided by someone else.

An unexpected alliance

To the untrained eye, it may seem unremarkable that Microsoft is moving to blend together Edge and Skype, which it purchased in 2011 for a whopping $ 8.5 billion. But in the context of the meteoric rise of Microsoft Teams, the latest Edge update appears strange indeed.

Since the start of the pandemic and transition to remote working, Microsoft Teams has emerged as the company’s flagship communication platform. The latest data suggests the service now boasts more than 270 million monthly active users.

Not only has Microsoft delivered a constant stream of feature updates for Teams, but the platform has also been built into the heart of the company’s new Windows 11 operating system, with a Teams icon affixed permanently to the taskbar. In years gone by, it was Skype that was installed by default on the Windows platform.

Given this state of affairs, and the closure of Skype for Business in 2021, the widespread assumption was that Microsoft would continue to invest fewer and fewer resources into the Skype brand moving forward. In turn, all the indicators suggest the company will attempt to push Teams further into the consumer market.

However, the latest early-access Edge build suggests there is life in Skype yet. Whether the update is an indication of a deliberate campaign to revive the older platform, or simply an attempt to service the remaining pool of users, will become clear with time.

Via Windows Central

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Slack down – latest updates and news

If you're seeing issues with Slack not working for you today, you're not alone. The online collaboration tool is currently down for users across the world.

The issue began around 6am PT / 9am ET / 2pm GMT on Tuesday 22 February, 2022, with users in multiple continents reporting issues.

There's been no word from Slack yet on what is causing the outage, so stay tuned and we'll keep you posted on all the latest updates and news below…

As we mentioned above, issues with Slack began appearing just as many workers in the US were signing on for the day.

Outage tracker site DownDetector showed a huge spike in complaints, with users also flocking to Twitter to report problems.

DownDetector Slack

(Image credit: DownDetector)

The issues appear to be affecting users of the Slack desktop app, with multiple browsers affected.

Here's what we're seeing when trying to access Slack on Google Chrome – but users on other browsers have also reported not being able to access.

Slack outage

(Image credit: Future)

The official Slack status Twitter account isn't reporting any issues just yet, but we're keeping an eye on it – the outage reports have now topped six thousand within less than half an hour, so something serious must be wrong…

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You shouldn’t install the latest Windows 11 update

Microsoft has made the KB5010414 update available to the Insider Program: it's a fairly significant patch for the Windows 11 operating system, though some users have already noted that issues are appearing on their systems after installing it.

These include overheating due to excessive CPU loads, and new printing issues that are unrelated to those that previously plagued both Windows 11 and Windows 10 users, neither of which were reported prior to this update being downloaded. 

Luckily, this update is only available to members of the Windows Insider Program (a beta-testing platform for early adopters), so there's no need to worry about it being automatically downloaded and installed onto your own laptop or PC. Still, if you're an Insider who has yet to download it, we would suggest you avoid doing so for the time being.

A notable expectation is if you're affected by a bug that currently displays inaccurate tooltips when you hover over taskbar items. By most reports, the KB5010414 update resolves this issue, but weighing up the risk is a decision that you can only make yourself.

MSPoweruser reports that Microsoft is already aware of the new problems, but noted that there was no mention it was working on a patch to fix the bugs just yet. It's likely it's being addressed though, given the purpose of the Insider Program is to locate and fix any issues before updates are available to the public, so we anticipate this will be remedied before the full update release.


Analysis: business as usual

Just because we've suggested that you avoid the buggy KB5010414 update for now, doesn't mean you should avoid doing so after the issues are resolved. When the issues are ironed out, this update is going to provide some pretty amazing upgrades to the current Windows 11 build.

Notably, Android apps will be made available, albeit only via the Amazon Appstore for now – this restriction shouldn't be in place long, as other providers like the Epic Games Store are also anticipated to roll out similar services at some point. Window sharing and mute/unmute options for Microsoft Teams calls are also expected to land on the taskbar, as well as a much-needed design update for the Notepad and Media Player apps.

It's very common for early updates to cause a few strange bugs in early access, but that's what the Insider Program is for. It allows keen enthusiasts who are aware of the risks to test upcoming updates for anything that can cause issues, to ensure that fewer problems are created when the full version of that update is released to the general public. If anything, the fact that concerning issues have been found and noted by Microsoft is good news, and proof the system works.

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Microsoft scores strange own goal with latest Teams update

Microsoft is preparing an update for collaboration platform Teams that has the potential to help users make the most of their desktop space, but is limited by a strange design decision.

According to an entry in the Microsoft 365 product roadmap, Teams users will soon receive the option to pack a larger number of messages on screen courtesy of a new compact mode.

The view mode will reduce both the font size and space between lines, allowing for 50% more chat messages to be displayed at once.

The feature is still currently under development, but should roll out to all Microsoft Teams customers by the end of the month.

Compact mode in Microsoft Teams

Although compact mode in Microsoft Teams will probably be inappropriate for anyone that struggles with vision problems, it could prove useful in a range of scenarios.

For example, multitaskers running Teams in windowed mode will be able to reduce the amount of real estate taken up by the app without cutting the number of messages they can see. The new mode will also benefit those running Teams on a portable monitor or work laptop, who until now have had to make do with reading fewer messages at a time.

Bafflingly, however, compact mode will only apply to one-on-one chats, not channels. It’s a strange decision, given the volume of messages that pass through group channels is typically much larger than in private chains.

The update will also apply only to the Microsoft Teams desktop client, at least for now, which means those working from smaller smartphones and tablets will not benefit.

TechRadar Pro has asked Microsoft about the rationale behind the decision to exclude channels from compact mode, and whether iOS and Android users will receive the option in future.

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Windows 11 gets free speed boost with latest update

Windows 11 has finally cured all of the serious problems with drive slowdown that have been plaguing some users for a good while now, according to a new report.

While these issues were supposedly fixed with the December cumulative update for Windows 11, as we reported at the time, even after that patch went out, some folks were still complaining about drive sluggishness.

However, Windows Latest reports that with the latest preview patch for Windows 11 – namely KB5008353 – the full fix is delivered, and all users should be happy, according to its own testing and other anecdotal evidence online. In the update notes, Microsoft states that it: “Addresses a performance regression issue that occurs when you enable the update sequence number (USN) journal.”

The USN journal is a log of changes to files on your drive, and so it could be tied into any remaining performance issues. A Reddit user speculates that this particular tweak is the key point, and observes: “I installed KB5008353 and my OS drive NVME random write speeds are almost 3.5x faster.”

Another user on Microsoft’s Feedback Hub stated: “Not only on NVME, even my SATA SSD is faster now. Earlier Windows 11 used to boot up slower than Windows 10.”

A further major issue whereby the colors on some HDR monitors were getting messed up has also been fixed with this patch.

Microsoft says the update addresses a “known issue that might prevent some image editing programs from rendering colors correctly on certain high dynamic range (HDR) displays.”

So, no more white looking like it’s yellow, or other visual glitches which could be seriously annoying in image editing apps.

KB5008353 is in testing right now, as a preview update, but will get its full release as the cumulative update for February (next week, in fact).


Analysis: A ‘drastic’ uplift in system performance all round

Obviously it’s a relief to see the drive speed bug finally addressed for good – we hope, anyway – because this can cut performance in half and has been a serious problem for some users. The cure for misbehaving colors on HDR monitors is also very welcome, of course, and that fix has come pretty quickly.

On the other hand, the wait for the drive performance issue to be remedied has been way too long, and it’s disappointing that the apparent cure from December 2021 seemingly didn’t work fully.

There are a bunch of important fixes in this preview update, in fact, and as well as those two major ones, there are solutions for some problems with File Explorer, including a fix for “some issues that affect File Explorer’s performance when you browse for files and select files,” and a “reliability issue that causes File Explorer and desktop context menus to stop working.”

A Reddit user in the above mentioned thread clarifies: “No more slight delays in opening context menus! Basically no more delays in anything. Even the start menu opens up instantly. This was one minor thing annoying me about W11, but now I think I’m finally content with 11.”

Another Redditor agrees: “There are multiple reports from Insiders that this update is a drastic increase in system responsiveness, I just installed it, can confirm that too.”

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