Weekly Tech Wrap-Up 10-28-2023, a week in which Automattic acquiring Texts, the iOS 17.1 release, dangerous email security threats, and built-in Windows and Mac antivirus software captivated our readers the most. Today, we look back at this week’s ten most engaging articles from the Tech Help Knowledgebase social media feeds. We order the summaries below by user engagement — the stories our users interacted with the most. Articles are in descending order, with the most engaging story first. Our human-curated social media feeds include links to technology news, how-to and help articles, and video tutorials for common issues.
Stories curated for our feeds are from our staff writers or culled from third-party sources that produce content related to the categories covered by our site. See the summaries and links below for this week’s top stories by user engagement. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to interact with our feeds.
Top 10 Most Engaging Stories This Week
Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com and Tumblr, moved into the messaging market after acquiring Texts.com. The purchase, valued at $50 million, brings a unique all-in-one messaging app into Automattic’s portfolio. Texts.com consolidates various chat platforms into a single dashboard, offering end-to-end encryption and user-friendly features such as message scheduling and marking messages as unread. The founder of Texts.com, Kishan Bagaria, will join Automattic as the head of messaging. This acquisition marks Automattic’s entry into a fourth market integral to the modern web experience.
The iOS 17.1 update, released after about a month of beta testing, includes several new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. One of the key changes in the update is to the iPhone 12’s radiation levels, which were a concern for French regulators. The update also introduces new features like an enhanced AirDrop feature that allows transfers to continue over the internet when out of range from the other device. Additionally, there are upgrades to Apple Music, including the ability to “favorite” songs, albums, and playlists and new filtering options in the Music app. iOS 17.1 also makes changes to StandBy mode, providing more control over display settings.
The increasing use of generative artificial intelligence tools and cloud services has escalated the risk associated with spam and phishing emails, according to a recent report from the VIPRE Security Group. As consumers have begun to use the cloud more frequently, hackers have followed suit. The report found that 58% of all malicious emails for the quarter were link-based malware deliveries, while attachments accounted for the remaining 42%. Hackers used cloud storage services for 67% of all malspam delivery methods in the quarter. The use of AI tools has made spam and phishing emails harder to detect as they can now create well-formatted, highly literate messages that are difficult to distinguish from benign ones.
Third-party antivirus software may not be necessary in 2023. It highlights that modern operating systems like Windows and Mac have robust built-in protections, making additional antivirus software redundant. The article also points out the high costs associated with third-party antivirus software subscriptions, which can range from $50-$100 per year. Furthermore, it argues that many users are not aware of or utilizing all the features offered by their antivirus software. Lastly, it suggests that some features provided by these programs are unnecessary.
The new Shortcut features in iOS 17 automate more tasks on your iPhone or iPad. For instance, when you connect a monitor to your iPad, it can automatically switch into a Focus Mode, launch an app, and play a news briefing. Another feature is the ability to record transactions made with Apple Pay onto a spreadsheet. However, the article notes that while these features are useful in theory, they can sometimes be unreliable in practice.
Microsoft Excel, a software tool known for its spreadsheet, pivot table, and data analysis capabilities, has some unexpected and creative uses. One such use is creating an interactive calendar within Excel, which offers unparalleled customization and offline access. The article also highlights Excel’s use of VBA macros to create a Sudoku solver within a spreadsheet. By setting up a 9×9 grid and inputting the appropriate code in VBA, users can solve Sudoku puzzles in Excel. These unconventional uses demonstrate the versatility of Excel beyond its traditional number-crunching role.
The article discusses how Microsoft Edge uses browsing data to personalize Bing Chat AI, a feature that has raised privacy concerns among users. The latest Canary build of Microsoft Edge has introduced a setting called “Allow Microsoft to access page content,” which enables the browser to use browsing data to enhance the relevance of AI-generated answers and suggestions. However, this practice overlooks the significance of user consent. Despite this, users do have the option to disable this data-sharing feature by adjusting their settings in the Bing Chat section of the browser. The article emphasizes the importance of transparency and user control in the evolving landscape of AI and data privacy.
Apple released iOS 16.7.2 and iOS 15.8 security updates this week to patch old hardware. At least for now, the iOS and iPadOS 16 updates cover older iPhones and iPads that can’t run iOS 17 and newer devices whose owners don’t want to install iOS 17 yet. The release is the first security update Apple has delivered for iOS 15 since mid-September, suggesting that the company plans to keep supporting 2021’s iOS release with continued security updates for at least a while longer. The iOS 15.8 update will only run on phones and tablets that can’t install iOS 16 or 17.
The growing concerns about online privacy and the security of personal data lead more people to consider alternatives to Google products. Restoring digital privacy doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Even minor changes like adopting a private search engine or using a privacy-centric browser can make a significant difference. The article lists eight Google search alternatives that prioritize user privacy and data integrity. These alternatives include MetaGer, SwissCows, Searx, Qwant, DuckDuckGo, Mojeek, YaCy, and Givero.
This privacy setting prevents Facebook and Instagram from tracking your online activity. The Activity Off-Meta Technologies tool lets users view and control the data that apps and websites share with these platforms. It also allows users to monitor information third-party apps can access. Users can clear their history of apps and websites that have shared their data, disconnect any information Meta has shared from their account, or selectively choose which companies they want to stop sharing their activity with. This tool is a significant step towards enhancing user privacy on these platforms.
Thank you for visiting Tech Help Knowledgebase to read the Weekly Tech Wrap-Up 10-28-2023, a summary of this week’s ten most engaging stories. If you liked this article, follow us on Twitter @techhelpkb and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep in the loop.
Henry Irvine, Contributing Technology Writer, translates more than a decade of internet technology experience in product and customer relationship management into practical help and how-to content. Look for him on Bay Area trails, music venues, or sausage shacks when he’s not writing. Don’t call him Hank if you see him. Seriously. Hank on Twitter